My Rating ~ Four and a half stars
RELEASE DATE: 1 January 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
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.
Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of Emergency Contact, and allowing me to be part of the blog tour! My tour stop is over on my Instagram page. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, make sure you go and check it out there because it includes a giveaway for a copy of the book!
When Penny heads to college, she’s glad to be moving away from the strained relationship with her mother and her ‘kind of sort of boyfriend’ who doesn’t understand her at all. Although, once she arrives at her dorm and meets her roommate’s best friend, it seems like she’s just traded one annoying person for another. Roped into going to the local coffee shop, she meets her roommate’s uncle Sam. Sam is going through issues of his own, and when Penny finds him suffering a panic attack, they become ’emergency contact’ friends. As they start texting, they realise just how easy it is to talk to each other.
At the beginning of this book, I thought I really quite disliked Penny. Although she was an awkward teenager, she also seemed to be a judgemental, arrogant and selfish one too. But as I read on, I realised she was all of that, but she was never meant to be portrayed as a perfect person. She wasn’t perfect, Sam wasn’t perfect, Jude wasn’t perfect, nor were Jude’s friend Mallory, Sam’s mother or Penny’s mother. They were all imperfect in their own ways and fighting their own battles.
Penny wasn’t interested in wasting any more of her time in this fantasyland of headassery, where the adults were large babies.
When Penny got back to her car, Sam wasn’t in it.
Honestly, it was like herding cats with these people.
As Penny and Sam continued texting each other, and sharing both completely useless and very deep and personal stories, I really fell in love with this story. It was sweet, sad, funny and painfully awkward at times. One of the things I loved most about Emergency Contact was, as an adult of a child myself, I could relate to both Penny and her mother (although I now usually default to feeling sorry for the mother in YA books haha). I actually expected a very fluffy, light contemporary read going in to this book, but it turned out to be so much more and I loved it.
Photo via my Instagram account – Bookbookowl
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary H.K. Choi is a writer for the New York Times, GC, Wired and The Atlantic. She has written comics for Marvel and DC, as well as a collection of essays called ‘Oh, Nevermind’. She is the host of ‘Hey, cool job!’, a podcast about jobs, and is a culture correspondent for VICE News Tonight on HBO. Emergency Contact is her first novel. Mary grew up in Hong Kong and Texas and now lives in New York.
Image credit Aaron Richter