The Helpline by Katherine Collette

ebook, 304 pages
Published July 23rd 2019 by Atria Books and Simon & Schuster Canada
About the Book:
Germaine Johnson doesn’t need friends. She has her work and her Sudoku puzzles. Until, that is, an incident at her insurance company leaves her jobless—and it turns out that there are very few openings these days for senior mathematicians with zero people skills. Soon enough though, Germaine manages to secure a position at City Hall answering calls on the Senior Citizens Helpline. But it turns out that the mayor has something else in mind for Germaine: a secret project involving the troublemakers at the senior citizens center and their feud with the neighboring golf club—which happens to be run by the dashing yet disgraced national Sudoku champion, Don Thomas, a celebrity of the highest order to Germaine. Don and the mayor want the senior center closed down and at first, Germaine is dedicated to helping them out—it makes sense mathematically, after all. But when Germaine actually gets to know the group of elderly rebels at the senior center, they open her eyes to a life outside of boxes and numbers and for the first time ever, Germaine realizes she may have miscalculated. Filled with an eccentric, totally unique, and (occasionally) cranky cast of characters you can’t help but love, The Helpline is a feel-good page-turner that will make you reexamine what it means to lead a happy life—and is bound to capture your heart along the way.

I have to admit that it's not an easy book but somehow finishing it felt really fulfilling. It's written as a stream of consciousness from Germaine's point of view and while on one hand it may be a good way to introduce us to her character, in this case I had to take some time to get used to it, seeing how different Germaine is. It also took me a little bit to warm up to her, because from the first impression Germaine comes off as quite brittle and antipathetic. But as I kept on reading, I realised that that was exactly the purpose and as time goes by, we see Germaine open up to the feelings and changing.

Just like with the main character, the plot only drew me in after some time. I really enjoyed the unexpected twists and turns, and I thought they were really well written. Personally, I think it's a great novel that shows the readers no matter what happenes in our lives, there will come time when we will have to overcome it. I enjoyed watching as Germaine was influenced by the people she met and grew and changed as a character. I also highly appreciate the way Katherine Collette portrayed mental illness (or was it a disability?) in this book - she wasn't afraid to show the worst side of it and I was glad that the character affected by it got so much support. There is a certain lightness to the author's writing, even when dealing with serious issues.

To sum up, The Helpline by Katherine Collette is a touching contemporary novel that deals with disability or mental health problems but also leaves reader with a huge dose of hope and warmth. It shows us that we can find a strength to overcome every problem and that it's good to be yourself, no matter what other people say. If you enjoy Up-Lit then this is a book for you, highly recommend.

Thank you NetGalley, Katherine Collette, Atria Books and Simon & Schuster Canada for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.

#TheHelpline #NetGalley


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