When the school counselor asks Abby to work a counseling chat line, she begs her to choose someone else. When Race, Abby’s three-year crush, begins using the chat line to talk about his girlfriend problems, can Abby be impartial when she really wants to tell him to dump her?
Race notices Abby after she has a complete make-over. He begins to spend more time with her and feels like a cheater because he likes the hotline girl too. How can he like two girls at once?
Abby is thrilled when Race begins spending time with her, but she’s crushed when he tells the hotline girl that he likes her and wants to take her out. Is he a player? Will he even want to be with her when he finds out that she is the hotline girl and knows all his deepest secrets?
What can you do when the guy you’ve been crushing on forever doesn’t notice you’re alive? How about a dazzling makeover? And if that’s not enough to catch his eye, how about helping him solve all his problems through your school’s peer-counseling hotline? That’s the intriguing premise of Hotline Girl, a short, fun, inspirational read from K. Dawn Byrd.
Abby is the sweet heroine at the center of Hotline Girl. She’s smart and funny but tends to keep to herself, content to watch high school from the sidelines. Once she decides to do something about her crush, though, she ditches her baggy clothes and nerdy glasses and joins the fun, quickly changing from geek to chic. Race, on the other hand, is already part of the in crowd. In fact, he’s dating the most popular girl in school just so he can keep up with that crowd, even though the girl represents everything his faith says is wrong. Confused, he reaches out to the school’s hotline to figure out what he should do. Through their anonymous conversations, Abby and Race quickly find common ground, and I liked how their interaction reinforces their faith and helps them grow as characters.
Although I enjoyed Abby and Race’s story, I think deeper characterizations could have made it even better. Race, especially, seemed inconsistent to me. His actions mostly show him to be a strong, centered young man who’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes, yet he’s dating a girl who makes him miserable just to fit in. I think more characterization to show why it was so important to him to be popular could have reconciled those two different sides of him. The story also felt a bit repetitive at times as the point of view switched between hero and heroine, going over the same scenes from each character’s perspective.
Overall, though, I liked how Abby’s story represents the idea that girls of faith shouldn’t settle for anything less than a special guy who shares their beliefs. I would recommend Hotline Girl to any teenager who’s struggling to balance a desire to be popular with the need to stay true to herself and her beliefs.