HELLO NOW by Jenny Valentine


Age Range: 13 - 18
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A lonely London teen is swept up in a logic-defying romance.

When Jude’s mother once again relocates the two of them—this time to a remote, “far-as-the-eye-could-see whites-only seaside town”—Jude is dejected and pessimistic. That is, until Novo appears. The boy possesses inexplicable and undeniable powers, which include everything from benignly influencing the actions of people and animals to stretching out a single moment of time. His abilities are so intrinsic that Jude immediately accepts them (“I knew straightaway that something impossible was happening”). Novo is also cosmically tied to Jude, and the two begin a blissful, whirlwind romance heavily influenced by Novo’s abilities. Though much of the story is devoid of conflict, by the end Jude faces a heartbreaking choice. Valentine (Fire Color One, 2017, etc.) dives deep even while playing in to the oft-trod wish fulfillment of a protagonist finding true love with a supernatural boy. The author deftly handles themes of living in the moment, embracing change, and moving forward after loss. While the conclusions drawn don’t necessarily break new ground, readers will nevertheless walk away with a lot to think about. Jude remains ungendered throughout the story, leaving the door open to various interpretations while not actively committing to a genderqueer protagonist. The cast is presumably white.

Short, sweet, and satisfying. (Magical realism. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 31st, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-399-54695-2
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Philomel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020