Hello... Wrong Number. by Marilyn Sachs. 1981. Scholastic. 97 pages. ISBN: 9780590327283
Hello... Wrong Number is a short and sweet paperback YA novel originally published in 1981. A teenage girl named Angie intends to call the object of her affection, a boy named Jim McCone, but when she dials the wrong number, she gets a different Jim. In a series of phone calls, Angie and the wrong Jim become quite close, sharing confidences and saying things to each other they’d never say to anyone else. But they have never met face to face. Will Angie, who can be quite shallow about boys, still like Jim if he doesn’t look as she imagines?
I chose to read this book because it reminded me of a book I loved as a kid, Phone Calls by R.L. Stine. Like Phone Calls, Hello... Wrong Number is a story told almost exclusively in dialogue between the main characters. Though the story is very lighthearted and easily zipped through in one sitting, the dialogue is well-written, bringing the characters right off the page. Both characters’ voices are very strong, and I could almost hear the way they might speak to one another.
Most kids have cell phones now, and caller ID makes it pretty easy to avoid wrong numbers, so it’s hard to say if today’s teens would relate to the story or not. I certainly don’t think most high schoolers in 2012 would name KC and the Sunshine Band as their favorite band, or compare a boy they like to Elton John, as Angie does. Still, Marilyn Sachs is a great author for fans of Paula Danziger, who also always wrote short, fun, romance novels for younger teens. Hello... Wrong Number would work well in a lesson about writing dialogue, and I think it would be fun to hear kids talk about how phone calls have changed since their parents were kids. It's also just a great escapist read for anyone missing the 80s!
I purchased Hello... Wrong Number from my local used book store.
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