Welcome! My name is Taylor, and I like books. A lot. In this bi-weekly column I’m going to be reviewing the books I read so you can decide if you want to read them too. Some books may be old, some may be new, some may have been sitting on my bookshelf for months, collecting dust as I think “Crap, I really should have read that by now.”
You can add me on Goodreads to find out what I’m reading all year long. Now, on to the review!
I’ve recently read some books that reminded me how much I love YA, and Mary H.K. Choi’s Emergency Contact is one of them. This perfectly awkward and funny romance centers on Penny and Sam, two young people who have big dreams but feel stuck in their dysfunctional and somewhat lonely lives. When one day Penny and Sam randomly connect and become each other’s “emergency contact,” they feel like they’ve finally found a person who really understands them.
Penny and Sam are great main characters. They are complicated and awkward while also being relatable and easy to root for. Penny, in particular, stole my heart. She’s a hard worker, a writer, and a bit of a nerd. Also, the relationship between her and her mom is one of my favorites in the book (second only to hers with Sam). It’s certainly a complex one, as Penny’s mom, Celeste, often seems more interested in being her best friend than her mother. What’s beautiful about Celeste, though, is we eventually see her deeper side and learn how much she really loves Penny. Like most everyone else in this book, she’s just trying her best.
There are a few moments in here that may seem a little too romantic/cheesy, but I can’t say that’s not exactly what I’m here for. I can say I love that this centers around college students. There really aren’t too many YA books whose main characters are in college and are therefore in that weird time when you’re not really a teen but also not an adult. The college-town setting (Austin, Texas, to be specific) also allows us to know the main characters a lot more deeply. Some of the most revealing sections of the novel are when Penny and Sam are working on their major class projects– a short story and a documentary, respectively. We get to know their thought processes and doubts and goals in terms of these projects and their long-term career goals, which is a really enjoyable aspect of this book.
Another aspect of Emergency Contact that I really enjoyed was the importance of female friendship. Penny, her roommate Jude, and Jude’s friend Mallory become a weird but loveable group of friends who don’t always agree or get along but who really care for each other. Their escapades include your classic going-to-a-party-then-waking-up-hungover moments but also provide some learning experiences and character growth for the women (and the readers).
While in some ways it’s similar to some other YA books I’ve read, I’m hesitant to compare Emergency Contact to any other books or authors because it is also pretty unique. But I’m sure anyone who enjoys books by the likes of Jenny Han and Rainbow Rowell will eat this one up and eat up you should. This book is an enjoyable one with main characters you won’t be able to get out of your head. And trust me, after finishing this, you won’t want them to.
TW’s for Emergency Contact: Mention of sexual assault.
Disclaimer: An ARC of this novel was sent to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect the review in any way.