Lucille Price and Wynona Olsen met the night they headed to the local police station to turn in various family members for a variety of crimes. Realizing that going to the cops will probably make things far worse than better, the duo decides to head for a local dive-bar that won’t look too closely at their fake IDs for a few G&Ts.
That night a new friendship is born. Each girl has someone (or multiple someones) they want to escape from. Wynona’s is her controlling father, the popular, enigmatic weatherman Stormy Olson. Stormy keeps Wynona on a short leash, saying he’s saving her from becoming like her drug-addicted mother who passed away a decade ago. Stormy cultivates an image of the perfect family and life, all while abusing Wynona and keeping her rich grandfather carefully under his thumb.
Lucille has an enabling mother and a drug-dealing brother who has no respect for boundaries and considers anything of value coming into their home his. Lucille sees her savings taken first by her mother and then her brother with the excuse that it’s all about helping our the family. As the police start to (not so subtly) stake-out her home, Lucille realizes the walls are closing in.
Each girl is trying to hold on for three months to make an escape from their small town to Chicago, where they plan to share an apartment and start a new life. The plan is fast-forwarded several months when both Lucille and Wynona realize they can’t stay any longer in the shadow of their family. And so, armed with news that Wynona’s mom is alive and well, living in Vegas, the two borrow one of Stormy’s cars and set out on the road to Las Vegas and a new life.
Hello Girls is a young adult novel all about subverted your expectations in all the right ways. Brittany Cavallero and Emily Henry pile on dark turn after dark turn in this character-driven, emotional story that, quite frankly, is one of the more enjoyable books I’ve experienced this summer.
I listen to audiobooks while pounding down the pavement running each morning. And sometimes, motivation can be difficult to come by. That wasn’t the case each morning as I looked forward to spending a few more chapters seeing where things would go next for Lucille and Wynona. Over the course of their epic journey, the duo find themselves using Lucille’s mathematical ability to win at a roadside casino, trying to stay one step ahead of Stormy and the bad men who are after Lucille for stealing her brother’s stash of drugs.
There are some epically dark moments over the course of this story, as each plan and hope of our heroes is dashed in some of the most stomach-churning and heartbreaking ways possible.
And yet, when we reached the final steps of the journey, I found myself hoping that Cavallero and Henry could be tempted to give us a follow-up book to see where these two go next. Hello Girls is a satisfying read in a dark-chocolate type of way.