Review: Emergency Contact, Mary H. K. Choi

There are no spoilers in this review.

Let’s be honest for a second: I don’t know how to talk about this book without crying or screaming or flailing or anything, really.
I first heard of Emergency Contact a long time ago, I think it was probably back in December or November of last year and I immediately added it to my TBR. You know, how sometimes, you just happen to know that’s the book for you? With Emergency Contact, I knew. I’m not usually gushing when I’m right, but here, I WAS DAMN RIGHT.



β€œPenny believed with her whole heart that there were moments – crucial instances – that defined who someone was going to be. There were clues or signs, and you didn’t want to miss them.”

Emergency Contact tells the story of Penny and Sam. Penny’s an eighteen-years-old Korean-American freshman, having just moved in to Austin, Texas, for college. Sam is a twenty-one years-old bartender, waiter and cook at a small cafe where he just happens to live upstairs, too. .

Told from a dual perspective, Emergency Contact tells us both the story of Penny, Sam and the story of their two lives colliding. Penny’s a Korean-American character, wanna-be-writer. Sam’s a half-Polish, half-German wanna-be documentary film-maker. Reading from their perspectives was like getting inside of their heads, for real. They were so well-fleshed out, flawed, human, complex, REAL.

Something that is quite impressive here, is that both characters get their own perspectives, story arcs and development, all the while slowly developing their own relationship as well. Don’t get me wrong – this book has the core and the heart and sweetness of a slow-burning, incredibly sweet romance. Yet, this book also deals with parental issues, getting over someone, going to university and getting accustomed to a new environment and new people, and so on. I appreciated that so much – this book wasn’t only about the romance, it was about the life surrounding it all as well, which, if you ask me, made it all the more cute, realistic and shippable as heck.



β€œIt wasn’t a romance; it was too perfect for that. With texts there were only the words and none of the awkwardness. They could get to know each other completely and get comfortable before they had to do anything unnecessarily overwhelming like look at each other’s eyeballs with their eyeballs.”

Penny and Sam meet thanks to Jude, Penny’s roommate at college and Sam’s niece. Yes, we definitely have some weird family background here, I’ll give you that. They meet again on the street, while Sam’s struggling with a panic attack and it all starts up from there. Numbers exchanged, texts starting up, phone-calls then; without ever meeting in real life, Penny and Sam develop a relationship where they start off from strangers to friends to confident, to a little bit more than that after all. The development of their relationship was incredibly realistic and relatable, really showing that yes, you can build something real even through text messages nowadays and making me root for them from the first text, ever. Their relationship was the most slow-burning, adorable little thing in the entire world and I just wanted them to kiss and be happy okay. I HAD WAY TOO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT IT ALL.



Despite the fluffiness of this book, at first, Emergency Contact still manages to tackle interesting, important and deep issues, too. It talks about the future and what to do with your life, it talks about the complexities of relationships between parents and children, it deals with stepping out of your comfort zone and getting out with new people, it talked about pregnancy and POC writers and writing about POC characters (yes! So good!), it dealt with rape, too (trigger warning, there is one scene). I don’t know, but everything from the romance to the side stories to the characters to the feelings just felt so damn real and relatable and ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.



Emergency Contact was funny, weird, relatable as heck and is for certain one of my favorite books of all times. I honestly don’t know what to say, except that you should totally read this right now and talk about it with me afterwards.


Trigger warnings:panic attack (described), rape / sexual assault (narrated in one scene).

Mary H. K. Choi, Emergency Contact, Β Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, March, 27th, 2018.


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 cafΓ© 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 touchβ€”via textβ€”and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Did you read Emergency Contact? Do you want to?

Do you know other books dealing with new technologies, texts, relationships starting off this way? I’d love recs if you have some! Let me know in comments!

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

62 thoughts on “Review: Emergency Contact, Mary H. K. Choi

  1. Would you classify this as a romance? Or contemporary? I keep picking it up at the bookstore, because everyone seems to love it, but I have heard mixed reviews on whether there’s an actual romance in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a romance, there is romance in the story – it’s a slow burning one that develops over time and during the whole book πŸ™‚
      I hope you’ll want to pick it up πŸ˜€
      Thank you for your comment ❀


  2. You make this sound too good to pass up, Marie! Unfortunately, I have this weird gut feeling that I won’t like it??? D: So I kind of feel like it’d be better for me not to read it than to ruin my initial feelings (which are based on the positive reviews I’ve been seeing). Anyway, I mostly only read about text stories and such in fanfiction stories. xD

    – Aimee @ Aimee, Always

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no I’m sorry to hear that :/ I get it though, if you feel like it’s not for you, maybe it’d be best not to try it out, you might be disappointed :/
      Thank you so much though for your sweet comment, Aimee! ❀ ❀


  3. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this, Marie! It’s sounds so amazingly good! Normally I’m suspicious of contemporaries because they tend to let the romance take over everything and ‘fix’ everything which irritates me so much so I’m glad to hear that the other plotlines stood their own! That’s literally the best thing for me in contemporaries πŸ™‚ Lovely review, Marie!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I get that, some books are annoying when the romance just takes over everything, the characters, the story overall and especially when it’s just a case of “fixing” someone. I always find that idea very wrong and… dumb, overall. It wasn’t the case at all here, thankfully! I really hope you’ll read and love this book, Laura πŸ˜€ Thank you so much for your sweet comment ❀ ❀


    1. Aww well mission accomplished then! This makes me so happy, I really hope you’ll want to give this one a try someday. It was beautiful and brilliant ❀ ❀
      Thank you so much for your comment!! ❀ ❀


  4. This book was recommended to me by someone and ever since I read the premise, I’ve been dying to get my hands on it. Makes me so happy to hear that you loved it! I love how diverse the characters are and that their relationship develops at a believable rate while not being all-consuming or the immediate focus. It’s always wonderful when the characters are given their own arcs and individual journeys, despite a romantic connection blooming between them. This sounds like a book that I’d love. Wonderful review! Glad that you enjoyed it as much as you did! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes that’s exactly it! Their relationship had time to develop, grow with time and both characters got their own journey as well, which I appreciated so, SO much. I hope you’ll end up loving it as much as I did πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes Marie I have been waiting for this review ever since I saw you talking about this book in your monthly recap post, and I am definitely going to be adding it to my TBR list because it sounds amazing. πŸ™‚ ❀
    The relationship between Penny and Sam sounds incredible, and it definitely seems like there's a lot of development behind them as well. Part of me loves slow-burn because it gives the characters time to develop (it's like the opposite of insta-love isn't it?). Plus if this is a favourite of yours I feel like I'm guaranteed to love it too. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YEEEES it didn’t feel like insta-love in that, too, they slowly got to know each other better and through texts and everything and I HAD SO MANY FEELINGS AND- sorry, I should stop hahaha. I just loved this book so much and really hope you will, too πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Beth ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely review as always, Marie! ❀
    I'm so glad you loved this book as much as you did, I knew you had high expectations for this one and I'm happy that they were met! I loved it as well, I liked Penny so much and could relate to her as well, the writing was really beautiful!
    I was so happy to see a pregnancy plot and I enjoyed watching Sam deal with the pressure. He was also sooo cute, I wanted to protect both of them so much ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so, so happy you enjoyed this book as well – I just wanted to hug and protect the characters and just for them to be happy, they deserve the world. I loved them, SO much ❀
      Thank you so much!! ❀ ❀


    1. Ohh well, fingers crossed your order will be there soon, I can’t wait for you to read it πŸ˜€ hope you will love it as much as I did!
      Thank you so much for stopping by πŸ˜€


  7. I definitely know that I have to (and also really want to, no one is forcing me here!!!) read this book. I already knew a little about it but your review was really fantastic as well. I can definitely seeing myself fall for this book head over heels. And it’s cool that Sam is half-Polish, half-German. I know a lot of folks with Polish background here in Austria as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thank you so, so much Kat! I’d love to hear your thoughts about that one, whenever you can buy it obviously, I’ll be waiting and looking forward to it πŸ˜€
      Agree, I loved that about Sam, too, I don’t think I’ve ever read about a half-Polish, half-German character before?! That was pretty cool πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely review Marie, as always! You know how much I want to read it especially since you have mentioned it. I am regularly checking the price on Amazon πŸ˜€
    Even without reading, I am already rooting for Penny and Sam. I know that there are going to be great.
    And wow, what’s left to say when we have such wonderful side characters.
    I am sure I would enjoy the story as much as you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I can tell that you love this book! Since you pour your soul into you review! I saw this book in the library and I was dying to buy it and now your view is confirming what a big mistake I made for not getting it! The cover, the topics, and I don’t know it doesn’t seem to be the cheesy kind of story of teenagers and their first relationship… I hope not hahaha and even if it’s about that, your review is great and appealing! (Maybe I had bad experiences with those books)

    This is for sure staying in my TBR!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well let me make you feel better right now: this (for me, at least) was not a cheesy story with teenagers and first relationships haha. We have college-aged protagonists already having previous relationships before, it’s adorable but also super realistic and not over-the-top-cheesy, just the right amount of swoon and reality balanced. YOU SHOULD READ IT, I’d love to know what you think of it πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. oh my god! so it is more mature! You are making quite a case here for the book! I like when they are all sweet without giving me diabetes haha I am so going to read it! I even added to my list and wait for Amazon to tell me when it is on sale! XD Marie thank you very much for selling this book so good! I love the cover so I might try to push it on hardcover XD

        Liked by 1 person

      2. YES YES THIS MAKES ME SO VERY HAPPY πŸ˜€ I hope it will be on sale soon and…. the hardcover is stunning……. I’m being a very bad influence here I apologize I can’t help it hahaha.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Summer of squishy YA?? Well, you’re in for a perfect summer hahaha. I can’t wait for you to read it, I really hope you’ll enjoy it πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much ❀ ❀


  10. You actually mentioned this book in another one of your posts and I have already added it to my wish list. Just by reading the summary and your thoughts on this, it made me want to read it that much more. I love romances that have other things going on other than the actual romance. They tend to be my favorite, and just overall more real. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book! Great review xx

    Melina |


    1. Oh I’m so happy to hear this ❀ This book felt so real, the characters' voices were really realistic and their struggles as well. I really hope you'll love it, Melina ❀ Thank you so much for your comment! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, you just made me REALLY want to read this book! I love slow-burning romances and I love books that not only focus on the romance but the life around it as well. Amazing review Marie ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve been seeing this book EVERYWHERE and there is so much love surrounding this story! The cover really catches my eye, too… the gold embellishments and the color scheme kinda makes it perfect for any bookshelf πŸ˜†

    After reading your review, I can’t wait to get a copy of this book now! I don’t think I’ve ever read a YA book that explores how a relationship can bloom from the technology we are surrounded with because… well, in the past few fantasy books I’ve been reading, the characters bond more from life-threatening battles than text messages on phones. πŸ˜‹ I think the only story I’ve seen that accurately portrays how social media affects teens in their relationships is through Skam, and that’s not even a book — it’s Norwegian TV series. Oh, I heard that Skam is really popular in Europe too — have you heard anything about it in France?

    Great review, Marie! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I think about it, I don’t really feel like I have read many books with these kind of romances and I want more of this for sure. They’re so relevant nowadays, chatting, becoming friends and more online. I loved that πŸ™‚
      I really hope you’ll read this book soon and that you will LOVE it, I can’t waitt o hear what you think of it! πŸ˜€

      Oh I actually haven’t heard about Skam until just now…. but it sounds like a very cool show! πŸ˜€

      Thank you so much!! ❀ ❀


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