Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Release date: March 27, 2018
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 391
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a cafĂ© and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.
Emergency Contact was the book I didn't know I needed--and it came to me at the perfect time. I'd lost a bit of my reading zeal, sticking more to graphic novels and manga because nothing was catching my attention. One day, an ARC of Emergency Contact showed up at work and I read the back. I was instantly intrigued, took it home, and started reading that night. I WAS HOOKED, and completely fell in love with Penny and Sam.

There's so much I could gush about, but the heart of book--the relationship between Penny and Sam--is just so strong. As they grow closer, they open up and find their own strengths, but also they learn how to lean on the other. They see how they don't have to take the world on all by themselves, that they can have one person to rely on. I loved loved loved seeing the two of them grow--though at the same time I also wanted to give each of them a big hug.

The other standout to me was the characterization, not just of Penny and Sam, but of every character. Every single person we meet really feels fully realized, where you can anticipate their reactions. Penny's mom, well-intentioned as she is, is especially memorable, because you see so much heart coming from her, but her actions often feel thoughtless.

As someone who doesn't read a ton of contemporaries, it takes a lot for one to become something that I'll push on others, one that I'll remember for months and years to come, and Emergency Contact is definitely one I'll recommend for a long time. It's gives you all the warm fuzzies and sweet, cute moments, but it also deftly deals with a lot of serious topics in a smart, competent, and meaningful manner. Give me more like this, world, please!

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