Hello Girls – Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 6 August 2019
Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.
Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.
Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.
One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt.
Hello Girls is an epic road trip novel slash crime novel slash ode to friendship slash feminist piece de resistance. With razor-sharp wit and punchy action, this book swings from hilarious to what the hell to hell yeah and back again.
To everyone else, Winona’s father is charming and kind. To her, he is both jailer and torturer. Lucille works hard to keep a roof over her mother’s head and her hard-earned savings away from the grubby hands of her drug-dealing brother. The only peace the two girls find is with stolen moments together in a run-down bar outside of town and dreams of starting over. One night, Winona leaves, steals her grandfather’s convertible and a hand full of valuables. Together, Winona and Lucille start off across the country. Towards what, they’re not sure but it can’t be worse than what they’re leaving behind.
Hello Girls is written by two best friends while on a road trip and so it makes total sense that Hello Girls is about two best friends on a road trip. But this is no glorious, sunshine-filled road trip, though it has its moments. It’s a desperate escape route, a chance for revenge, a way to tell the world to back off, the first chance to be themselves. I love the themes of empowerment, standing up for themselves, finding out who they wanted to be – at least in that moment – and challenging expectations. I really enjoyed the first half of the book. Laugh out loud funny tempered with some really sad and confronting circumstances. The girls’ friendship is spot on. They fight, are totally different from the other, but you can feel their connection, or perhaps better yet, just how much they need the other.
However, once I hit the halfway mark, this book got a little seedy. This book is for mature readers only, with content ranging from drug deals, abuse, rape threats, sexual references, theft, murder, gambling, alcohol consumption, to references to pornography.
I liked the ending, the success coupled with disappointment meeting new opportunities and the glorious freedom. There are plenty of untangled threads – like did they ever finish school? But for the most part, there is enough going on.
Part contemporary, part crime thriller, mature YA readers are sure to enjoy this edgy novel.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Road trip, abuse, friendship, crime, gambling, drugs.
Reading age guide: Ages 14/15 and up.
Advisory: Coarse language, f*** (45), sh** (51), as***** (6), who** (1), bit** (12), bast*** (3). Sexual references and sexualised themes. References to drugs, drug selling and taking. References to rape, prostitution, strip teasing. References to gambling. References to alcohol and drunkedness. References to abuse, physical. References to crime, theft, violence, murder, guns and shootings.
Published: 6 August 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books.
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 320 pages.