Cover reveal time! Hello (From Here) is a witty and thought-provoking YA love story set during the COVID-19 quarantine, written by two NYT bestselling authors, with shades of Five Feet Apart and Anna and the French Kiss.
What starts as a flirty exchange quickly becomes more as the reality of the world around them forces Max and Jonah to confront the difficulties of their relationship in the midst of a pandemic.
Scroll down to read a sneak peek!
Designer: Kelley Brady
Cover artist: Jeff Östberg (IG: @jeffelicious)
“A T-shirt,” Jonah says over FaceTime. “That’s what’s going to make you happy.”
“No,” I say. “That’s what’s going to make you happy.” Jonah looks skeptical. “Okay, look, if I were forced to enter a…marathon for boats—”
I pull a face. “You made up that word.”
“As I was saying, if I were forced to sign up for a regatta, you’d be the first person I’d call.” I take out a plastic barrel of neon orange cheese puffs from the shallow closet we call a pantry and untwist the top because we buy this stuff in bulk.
“But quarantine, now here is an area in which I have expertise. I’ve been training my whole life. You are speaking to the master.” I give a small bow and then eat a cheese puff.
“And now I’m concerned you’re convincing me to join a cult,” Jonah says from the comfort of his bedroom, and I do mean comfort. There’s a couch in there and an attached bathroom.
“Put on the T-shirt, Jonah.”
It’s kind of sweet that he steps off screen to change his shirt, returning in one with the LA Rams logo on the front pocket.
“I didn’t know you were into football,” I say.
“I won it in an Instagram giveaway.” He looks down at his new outfit. “I have to be honest, Max. It feels the exact same as my polo, but I look less put-together.”
“That’s the point. It’s a state of mind. Prepare to do…nothing.” I, for one, am fully prepared. I’m wearing a tie-dye shirt, my big gray sweatpants. and slippers with synthetic sheepskin lining the inside. Game on.
He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.
“Step two,” I instruct. “Sustenance.” I wait until Jonah has had time to make the commute—yes, actual commute—from his bedroom down to his kitchen. There are stairs involved and it takes every ounce of self-control I have not to remark on the life-sized oil painting of a young Jonah that he passes in the hall. Here’s what I can make out of Jonah’s kitchen. An island, which isn’t only reserved for tropical vacations apparently; a refrigerator big enough to hide not one but two dead bodies; and a bunch of shiny appliances that are probably really expensive and do only one specific thing each, like slice hardboiled eggs or fry zucchini—honestly I have no idea. “Okay, so like with all great chefs, I have a philosophy when it comes to cooking and it’s this: If you aren’t eating stuff your dentist would be mad about, you’re not doing it right.”
Jonah literally writes this down on a notepad.
“You’ll need flour, sugar, milk, cocoa, more chocolate, preferably in the form of chips, but I’m not picky, and some baking soda and vanilla and whatever kind of oil you have. Got it?”
“Should I go ahead and preheat the oven?” he asks with the innocence of a young babe.
“God no, that would take forever.”
On our opposite ends of the world, Jonah and I gather the same set of ingredients. I nod approvingly. “Now, dump them all in a coffee mug,” I say.
“A coffee mug?”
I demonstrate mine, which is shaped like Winnie-the-Pooh’s honey pot and acquired during that one ill-fated trip to Disneyland. Jonah selects a pretty blue-and-white one that he swears his sister made.
“Now we just pop it in the microwave for three minutes and voilà—chocolate mug cake.” We click our microwave doors shut in sync and set our timers and then we just kind of stare at each other.
There are worse things.
“Were you ever mad at your mom for leaving you alone all the time?” he asks, a question I don’t think anyone has ever asked me before.
“Yeah,” I answer honestly. “For a while. Other kids had parents picking them up from school or bringing cupcakes for their birthday. I knew there were kids who got to do gymnastics at the Y and take swimming lessons, and I felt kind of trapped. I didn’t have a way to get anywhere. It sucked.”
“I feel kind of trapped now,” he says. “This whole lockdown thing sucks.”
“Totally sucks,” I agree. “No parties, no formals, no reason to get dressed, let alone dressed up. I have a bomb dress hanging in my closet and nowhere to wear it to. Which sucks. ”
“I miss restaurants,” he says. “Takeout kind of sucks. My cooking sucks even more, though.”
“Zoom classes are going to suck.”
“Try being stuck for days on end with my stepmother. That sucks.”
“I just started wearing a mask all day and trust me that—”
“Sucks,” Jonah finishes for me.
The microwave beeps and we both break eye contact simultaneously.
“Hold that thought. We’re not done with our culinary lesson yet,” I warn.
I talk him through my famous nacho popcorn made spicy with crushed Flaming Hot Cheetos.
“Really, how you haven’t received a Michelin star yet is beyond me.” Jonah taste-tests his, which are sadly devoid of Cheetos.
“Do you at least have whipped cream?” I ask.
He rummages in his fridge and sticks his arm all the way to the back. “It’s probably old.”
“It’s fine. It’s just chemicals anyway.”
“That’s…comforting. For the cake?” he asks, shaking it.
I grab my own canister. “No, it’s for our mouths. To 2020.” I cheers him and then tip my head back and spray a big dollop of whipped cream straight into my open mouth. “The year in which everything sucks. Except for cake.”
“Except,” he says, mouth half-full of whipped cream, “for you.”