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The Helpline: A Novel by Katherine Collette
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The Helpline: A Novel (edition 2019)

by Katherine Collette (Author)

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817277,783 (3.43)1
An eccentric woman who is great with numbers--but not so great with people--realizes it's up to her to pull a community together in this charming, big-hearted debut perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and The Rosie Project. 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.… (more)
Member:Scoobyrae1
Title:The Helpline: A Novel
Authors:Katherine Collette (Author)
Info:Atria Books (2019), Edition: Illustrated, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
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The helpline by Katherine Collette

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
It takes place in Australia. Some terminology and conventions were new/strange to me. Germaine is a socially inept young woman, but kind of clueless to that fact. Who goes to Sudoku conventions? She breaks things down into mathematical probabilities. When the book includes graphs and illustrations of her take on things, its pretty hilarious. When she is fired from her job at an insurance firm (not her fault, she insists!), she falls into a job answering phones for the Senior Helpline. In true Germaine fashion, she is singularly unhelpful! But the mayor gives her a "special project," which involves getting the senior center closed down. She's doing a great job at that until she starts to care about the seniors involved. ( )
  cherybear | Feb 12, 2021 |
This Aussie version of Eleanor Oliphant is Perfectly Fine is much more fun. Germaine (hahaha name), a math and Sodoku savant, gets fired by her boss after many years as an insurance company actuary, when knowledge of their secret after-hours canoodling is revealed. With the grudging assistance of a nasty cousin (her vow-renewal ceremony is hilarious), she gets a job on a senior citizen help line in a small city hall office and ambitiously pursues a promotion from the mayor, who, in cahoots with a handsome Sodoku champion and former idol of Germaine's, tasks Germaine with closing down the popular senior center. The plot is somewhat predictable, but Germaine is a great character and we are lucky that the author is generous with the inner thoughts and workings of her unique persona. Kind of a hoot! ( )
  froxgirl | Jul 16, 2020 |
Not as good as other books with same issues ( )
  shazjhb | Sep 15, 2019 |
The Helpline is Katherine Collette's debut novel.

Germaine Johnson loves math and sudukos. She firmly believes that a formula can be found for everything in life. But such is not the case when an unfortunate happenstance at her insurance company job results in her being let go. But through a family connection she lands a job on a senior citizen's telephone helpline.

Although it is never specified, it is apparent that Germaine is somewhere on a spectrum - Asperger's? A telephone hotline is probably not the best fit for someone with her interests. But an unscrupulous city official has recognized that Germaine's naivete and attraction to a male Suduko player can be exploited.

And this is the part that saddened me. She has been taken advantage of more that once - the insurance company situation is particularly disheartening. But counterbalancing that are her new fellow employees at the council office. They are a quirky bunch, but for the most part good-hearted and accepting. They provide a needed balance to offset the nefarious mayor and counterparts. The seniors at the community center are also kind. And are also being taken advantage of.

And yes, you can see where the book is going to go. Can Germaine see and participate in life beyond the narrow constraints she has set for herself? Find friends and a new place for herself? Do the seniors take back their center? And is the mayor thwarted?

I liked the premise, but I must admit to having a harder time liking Germaine. I felt like I should be drawn to her as she's the lead character. But I wasn't. She is written with many hard edges and an inability to feel sympathy or empathy. This may be attributable to her 'condition', but I think I was expecting someone more like Don in The Rosie Project. Likable.

There are some funny moments in The Helpline. (I enjoyed the workplace fight for the biscuits) But I didn't find so many that I agreed with the idea that this would be a charmingly funny debut.

The ending provides a turn that I think it supposed to be humourous, but it fell flat for me and only solidified my inability to be on board with Germaine. Sadly, this book was just okay for me. ( )
  Twink | Aug 18, 2019 |
The Helpline is an entertaining read. How can you help others when you can't even help yourself? Germaine, the heroine, is fired from her job of 15 years (she's a math genius), and is abruptly tossed out into the real world. She is socially awkward and inept and just doesn't have people skills. How, then, to find a new job? But, find she does working in a senior center. It's a new complicated reality. She is witty and relatable, but she is also annoying sometimes. Germaine learns the ropes of office politics, personal interactions and questions her way of being in the world. Germaine becomes entangled in a situation that brings her issues to the forefront. Through all of this, she makes actual connections to other people, confronts herself about who she's been for so long and ultimately must choose who she wants to be, knowing she has the strength to leave some ways of living in the past. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  JypsyLynn | Jul 24, 2019 |
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An eccentric woman who is great with numbers--but not so great with people--realizes it's up to her to pull a community together in this charming, big-hearted debut perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and The Rosie Project. 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.

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