The Helpline: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Germaine Johnson is great at math, good at Sudoku, and less than wonderful with people. So, when she’s fired from her job at an insurance firm, the only place desperate enough to hire her without a reference is the Senior Citizen’s Hotline. Little does she know that being an operator entails mitigating a car-park turf war, carrying out top secret assignments for the mayor, running errands for an undercover Sudoku champion, and coming out of her impenetrable shell.  The Helpline is the perfect summer read; hilarious and endearing, its heroine is the wry anti-hero you didn’t know you needed, its supporting characters are lovely and original, and its story is unforgettable.


— From Tianna's Recs


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.

About the Author

Katherine Collette is a Melbourne-based writer and sewage engineer. She once worked at a senior citizens council and her experience there informed The Helpline, her debut novel.

Praise For…

"A fun read, full of unique characters."
—Associated Press

"Fans of The Rosie Project and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine will want to meet Germaine Johnson, the unexpected hero of Australian Collette's debut . . . . Collette's adept handling of Germaine's unawareness of others' hidden agendas makes for a charming character who grows over the course of the novel."

“Clever writing about an awkward character.”
Kirkus Reviews

“The character of Germaine, endearing but far from cutesy, is the great triumph of this accomplished debut.”
The Sydney Morning Herald

“I like it more than Eleanor Oliphant . . . Great fun.”
—Radio New Zealand

“Delightful feel-good fun.”
—Toni Jordan, author of Addition

“I fully recommend this book. I just loved it.”
—ABC Radio Sydney

"Katherine Collette’s debut novel is a home-run. It’s filled with great, quirky characters . . . unlike any I have read so far this year."
—Red Carpet Crash
Product Details
ISBN: 9781982111335
ISBN-10: 198211133X
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: July 23rd, 2019
Pages: 304

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