Hello (From Here)

Dial. Sept. 2021. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593326121.
Gr 9 Up–Max and Jonah are trying to make sense of their lives when they are thrust into the COVID-19 quarantine. Max, who helps support her mom and is saving money for college, is determined to continue working as the world around her shuts down. While in the supermarket preparing an order, she meets Jonah and is intrigued by his quirky demeanor. When she delivers groceries to his neighbor, she sees Jonah watching her through the window and the two begin an online friendship that distracts them from the restrictions around them. Jonah, who is grieving for his mother and gets panic attacks, becomes infatuated with Max. When Max learns that a longtime customer of hers is in the hospital, she enlists Jonah’s help to reunite her customer with an old flame. As the two make a plan, circumstances threaten the trust that they were slowly building. The novel portrays the difficulties that teens have faced during the pandemic, presenting the manifestations of isolation, fear, and uncertainty. While the authors create a realistic dynamic between the two main characters and highlight important issues, such as mental health and loss, they also include many of the stress-inducing details related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though some teens may be OK with reading about the trauma, many may be too overwhelmed with the recent past for a story in which the pandemic plays such a large role.
VERDICT A realistic teen romance that touches on important issues but might be too topical for some teens, this is a general purchase.

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