Lucky Caller by Emma Mills
Release date: January 14, 2020
An e-galley was provided by Macmillan via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.
The members of Nina's haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she'd hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.
The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina's family is on the brink of some major upheaval.
Everything feels like it's spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: At this point, I love Emma Mills's books so much that my reviews probably aren't unbiased. But I don't care because she writes the stories I would've loved as a teen and the stories I love even as a twenty-something. They're soft, and realistic, and beautiful. They're like sunny June afternoons on the hill outside my house, like Christmas morning, like waffles on Sundays. And I hope she never stops writing such character-focused, life-focused books.
One of my favorite things about Mills's books is that they're never just about a romance. Friendships or families (or both) are always a big deal. While there are friendships in Lucky Caller, it's more about Nina's family. Right from page one, it's clear she's about to get a new stepfather. Her feelings about this are never two-dimensional or caricaturish. She likes Dan all right, and through primarily him, Mills presents a theme of people having layers and unexpected depth. He's also used as a foil to Nina's dad who hasn't been very present in his daughters' lives, and while Conrad isn't the villain, Dan is clearly a better guy and father. On the same family track, Nina is the middle child of three girls. Her older sister Rose has a small plotline about college and her future, and her younger sister Sidney is all softness and young teen enthusiasm. She reminded me a little of Flora from Famous in a Small Town.
The premise of Lucky Caller revolves around a high school radio class and the shows each group has to produce weekly. Nina falls into a group with classmates she doesn't know well...and Jamie, a guy she grew up with but grew apart from before high school. We find out their history, but some of it (like the reason they stop talking) takes a little too long to be revealed. But as they become friends again (and maybe something else), I couldn't get enough of them. Jamie is a little less dynamic than past Mills love interests, but he has a personality and a back story (and a future story). And he and Nina fit so well together. He's the first Mills love interest that isn't new to the main character at the beginning of the story, and that makes their relationship so much more interesting. We get to see them at a point that happens beyond the end of the book in all of Mills's other novels, and that makes for some great character dynamics.
Content warnings: foul language
The Verdict: I love it. No one is surprised.
Will I be adding this book to my library?: I preordered it MONTHS ago lol.