Can you fall in love with a voice? This witty romance, told entirely through phone calls, chronicles the tale of a wrong number gone right.
It all started with a wrong number. The voicemails Lucy left on James's phone were meant for someone else - someone who used to have James's digits. But then when James finally answers and the two start to talk, a unique bond forms between the two teens.
Gradually Lucy and James begin to understand each other on a deeper level than anyone else in their lives. But when James wants to meet in person, Lucy is strangely resistant. And when her secret is revealed, he'll understand why…
In a narrative rendered entirely in voice mails, text messages and transcribed phone conversations, James and Lucy gradually go from strangers to romance.
Lucy starts it off by calling what she thinks is the customer-service number of a company she's ordered a plaque from, but it's actually James' new phone number. The company is defunct, and the order Lucy placed with such care is never going to arrive. Both Lucy and James live in Vermont and go to high school; Lucy's in Montpelier, and James lives in Burlington. Once they get past the initial confusion, their conversations are full of teasing, casual and funny. As the back and forth continues, more serious subjects gradually arise, and eventually they become confidants, more candid with each other in this mediated relationship than they might be in person. However, each of them has something that they hide from the other that their friends already know. And each does something that the other might consider unforgivable. How the friendship heals while the characters remain true to themselves is conveyed in the continuing encounters.
Appealing characters stand out in a quick read that is a lighthearted look at how real friendships develop, grow and deepen.
Lucy, in East Montpelier, Vermont, dials a number more than once, leaving increasingly angry messages about the lack of return calls acknowledging an order she had placed. James, almost an hour away in Burlington, finally answers, explaining he's not the business she was trying to reach. A conversation ensues, and the two 16-year-olds gradually become phone friends. Their cautious yet witty exchanges slowly include analytical and enlightening dialogue. Homework help often segues to love-life advice, but when James asks Lucy to a dance at his high school, she panics. Underneath the playful, comedic banter, they both are keeping something personally painful close to their chests, but little by little, their truths surface, revealing how lives cross paths that are closer than imagined. This story, told solely through voice mails and phone conversations, offers interesting impressions that rest solely on words unaccompanied by actions. Hung Up intriguingly looks at building, losing, and rebuilding trust while learning to respect personal boundaries. - Jeanne Fredriksen
Lucy accidentally meets James when she tries over and over again to call a customer service number for an order that she placed and did not receive. After leaving a variety of angry voicemails, she is shocked when a live voice answers; a live voice that belongs to James, a senior at a nearby high school, not a customer service employee. What ensues is a playful and lighthearted series of phone calls between the two the quickly turns flirtatious as they decide if they should actually meet each other or continue their anonymous phone friendship. Lucy is afraid to meet James, however, because in all their conversations, she might not have been telling the whole truth. Reluctant readers will love this quick and easy read as they become sucked in to the phone conversations between relative strangers. While the plot is pretty straightforward except for the small twist of Lucy's secret, it is engaging and somewhat addicting in its short high school banter. Readers will turn pages quickly as they begin to root for this unlikely relationship. - Jeanna Sciarrotta
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books:
It all starts with a wrong number: Lucy's trying to leave messages about an order she placed but is actually leaving them on James' voicemail; when James finally picks up and explains, the two begin to banter, and a telephone relationship is born. That relationship becomes close and confessional, but as it moves toward meeting in person Lucy begins to worry, because she hasn't been honest with James about who she really is.
From Bells Are Ringing to Couloumbis' Not Exactly a Love Story, the telephone romance has been a narrative staple, and Tracy musters a rapid-fire banter for her conversants (in dialogue formatted like a playscript) that's mannered yet witty and funny (Lucy, for instance, is "a very accidentally contentious person"). The eventual revelations are foreshadowed rather than coming as surprises, so the pleasure here is watching the protagonists gradually trust each other with more of the truth. While it's overall somewhat more artful than authentic, the play between James and Lucy is rhythmic and entertaining, and the format could prompt a readers' theater performance or serve as an inspiration for young writers to create their own dialogue narratives.
Hung Up was released in hardcover on March 4th, 2014.
Recommended for teens.