Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Phone Calls" by Ann Reit

Juliet Gibson is an aspiring poet who is in love with Timothy Thornton from afar. She has plenty of other boys in her life, including fellow poet Oliver, who has recently returned to town after four years away. Not to mention philosophical Cliff and sporty Mike. However, none of them except Tim send that special tingle down her spine. Juliet is despairing that she'll never find that special boy when she receives a mysterious phone call in which an anonymous male voice quotes "Did my heart love till now?" from Shakespeare's classic play. Being a poet, Juliet finds this wonderfully romantic, and not creepy the way the rest of her family and friends do. In fact, it gives her the confidence to start growing out her hair and wearing pink sweaters. Her mysterious Romeo calls the same time each week and, as all the boys in her life suddenly start showing romantic interest in her, she must figure out which one of them it is.

"Phone Calls" is one of those treasures I managed to find for just 1o cents during an Op Shop trawl. I was attracted to the so-bad-it's-good cover in which a blandly pretty girl (with what can only be called a mullet) clutches a phone to her ear as if she's just been told she's won the Lotto as opposed to having cheesy Shakespearean sonnets recited to her. I like grabbing these books from decades past to see how far such things as attitudes and technology have progressed since the book was published. Alas, I couldn't find anything outrageous within the pages of "Phone Calls". Even though it was written before the advent of mobile phones, it doesn't change things. And the message the book puts out is largely along the lines of most modest teen romances: be yourself and like you for who you are. It avoids cliches such as the "mean girl", and is actually kind of bland. The identity of Juliet's secret admirer is a foregone conclusion and the resolution is a bit pat and overly convenient. There is some mild humour in the descriptions of Juliet's house and her fashion choices (they're all horrible), but otherwise "Phone Calls" isn't exactly something you should go out of your way to find.

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