A 30-something numbers wiz uncovers surprising truths about herself, her small Australian town and the people in it.
When Germaine Johnson loses her job as a senior mathematician at an insurance company, the 30-year-old Australian numbers wiz and sudoku aficionado's life is upended. Data points, algorithms and variables are how Germaine--with a very high opinion of herself and her abilities--navigates the world. She may be mathematically brilliant, but her social skills are dismal. This makes her virtually unemployable, until her cousin Kimberly offers a lead on a job at a council office in the city of Deepdene. The facility manages the senior citizens helpline, a phone-in service for older residents who need advice, or are lonely and need someone to talk to.
Perceptive, painfully exacting and over-achieving, Germaine soon catches the attention of Deepdene's mayor, who asks her to deal with a parking problem plaguing the senior center and an adjacent golf club. The task brings Germaine in contact with Don Thomas, who owns the club. She instantly recognizes good-looking Don as Alan Cosgrove, the 2006 national sudoku champion. Alan was once a very positive influence--from afar--in Germaine's life. "Sort of like the father I never had," admits Germaine, who is instantly starstruck and smitten. But why has Alan changed his name? Why is he managing a golf club? And is there really a parking problem, or is something else actually going on in town?
These questions form the basis of The Helpline, a clever and moving—often madcap--journey through the realities of everyday life, local politics and power plays. Debut Australian novelist Katherine Collette delivers a hilarious story that is sure to charm readers.
Atria Books, $26.00 Hardcover, 9781982111335, 304 pages
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (July 23, 2019), link HERE