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.
AMAZING, FLAWED AND COMPLEX CHARACTERS
“Penny 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.
AN ADORABLE RELATIONSHIP – I SHIP THEM OKAY
“It 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.
STILL MANAGES TO DEAL WITH SOME OTHER, NON-ROMANTIC ISSUES
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.
Final rating: A HURRICANE OKAY IT WAS TOO GOOD.
Trigger warnings:panic attack (described), rape / sexual assault (narrated in one scene).
Mary H. K. Choi, Emergency Contact, 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 café 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.
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!