26 March 2012

An Abundance of Chloes

Fact: I kind of hate making up fictional names. If it were up to me, all my characters would be named "Sam." It's the one I use for all of my protagonists until forced to switch out for something else. However, you can't name everyone Sam (unfortunately) so then I scroll through lists of baby names, think about which friends are worth immortalizing in print, and sometimes just make stuff up.

For Exclusively Chloe, I Google checked "Chloe-Grace," the main character's name, just to make sure it was somewhat unique. Luckily, it returned few hits. The only competition was Chloe Grace Moretz, who was back then just a semi-obscure kid actress so I didn't worry too much. Now Moretz's a Hollywood starlet, tween style icon, and has dominated Google for the foreseeable future based on the strength of her work in (500) Days of Summer, Kick-Ass, and Let Me In. It's a good thing I like her or I would have declared Internet war!

What I didn't do back then was check to see how many other young adult books had "Chloe" in their titles. Last week I saw the great cover for the soon to be released Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe and that led me to find all the YA Chloe books I'd missed before -- along with creating a Chloe-themed Pinterest collection.

As it turns out, there are almost fifteen books released since 2000 with "Chloe" in the title. I shouldn't be surprised I guess. On the baby name popularity charts, "Chloe" soared from a ranking of #63 in 1999 all the way up to #9 in 2009, where it has held strong for three years.

Does having the same name in our book titles say anything about similarities in plot and characters? Well, let's find out what's really in a name.

First up is Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong), which features a half-Chinese protagonist who has an eye for fashion. My Chloe-Grace is a Chinese girl who also lives for fashion. Both young ladies live in Los Angeles, have dysfunctional families, and judge people based on their outfits. They would obviously be besties.

Actually they'd probably have to make room for Chloe Gamble too, the star of an entire Chloe trilogy -- admirably titled The One, VIP Lounge, and Hot Mess. This Chloe is a Machiavellian wannabe celebrity who makes a rapid ascent in Hollywood. She would get along with Chloe Wong Leiberman and Chloe-Grace just fine. (Note: this is the only other male author on my list. Ed Decter also wrote There's Something About Mary, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, and some of the Santa Clauses. He's definitely winning in the race for people who are successful before/after writing young adult books about Chloes. I hope to overtake him some day.)

And speaking of best friends, Zoe and Chloe On the Prowl features a rhyming duo who are out to find dates to the Earthquake Ball -- by placing want ads in the paper. This is right up the chick lit alley and I'd like to think of them as Chloe-Grace's pen pals from England. They'd talk about boys and teach each other important slang terms a.k.a. curse words.

There is a lot about family in Exclusively Chloe, as Chloe-Grace is adopted and on the search for her biological parents. In this she could relate heavily with Cesca Adey's Chloe, who also faces adoption issues and finding her real mother. And what are the chances there are two Chloe books with fairy godmothers? Chloe's Wish features a fairy godmother named Gloria while my Chloe-Grace has a fairy godmother named Luther. Luther is Chloe-Grace's friend and stylist and he gives her a make-under so he's more like a reverse fairy godmother I guess. Chloe's Wish wins for best Chloe cover as it features a pegasus. If only my cover had a pegasus!

And while I'm pretty sure Francine Pascal did not pen Secret Love Diaries: Chloe herself, it can't be left out because this is a novel about an undercover relationship. Chloe Murphy dates the hottest guy at Sweet Valley University but is forced to keep it a secret. "Girl, that's a relationship you should not be in," is the counsel Chloe-Grace would provide. "Dump that boy right now and make it a short story."

Lest you think Chloes are all superficial femme bots, let me show you some who also suffer from existential and theological crises. For example, Chloe from the series My Name is Chloe (Diary of a Teenage Girl) struggles with her relationship to God and eventually forms a band named Redemption while trying to remain edgy. I'm guessing lots of black eyeliner and harsh guitar riffs are involved.

And then there's the bad girl of the Chloe club, Chloe Doe, a 17-year old prostitute who propositions a plains clothes police officer. Whoa now, majorly bad career decision. Chloe-Grace would so take Chloe Doe under her wing and help her get on the straight and narrow. Then take her shopping on Rodeo Drive to re-invent her wardrobe.

Chloe, Queen of Denial and The Nine Lives of Chloe King series both share Egyptian influences. The former is about a girl who explores archaeological digs and the latter is about a girl descended from Bastet, an Egyptian feline goddess. Nine Lives is a television series that I should probably check out but I can't bring myself to do it because I'm bitter that it's Chloe King instead of Chloe-Grace on my TV screen. We Chloe writers are not above petty jealousy, oh no.

Lastly, here's two Chloe books that don't feature Chloes as the main character. Becoming Chloe is about a guy named Jordy who rescues a girl named Wanda while she is being raped. Since "Chloe" is an obviously much better name than "Wanda," she changes it and the two of them embark on a road trip across America to well, I dunno, find beauty and peace? At least I hope that's what they find.

Coping With Chloe is very intriguing as the main character is actually an Anna, but Chloe is her twin sister who dies (I think) and then her spirit somehow merges with Anna's body. So it's two girls in one! There is also a boy who likes both of them, even though they are technically the same person. Which could be, um, complicated. I definitely need to read
Coping With Chloe because sometimes I feel like my twin sister has infiltrated my psyche too. George, let's read this one together and compare notes.

So what have we learned from our tour of Chloes? A lot right? Sure you may think that by reading one Chloe book you've read them all but as I've proven here, the Chloes of young adult literature aren't just all about celebrities, adoptive families, and running from the paparazzi. That's only in my book. So please don't judge one Chloe by another, even if some of them will certainly be judging you.