Title: Emergency Contact
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Penny Lee is a misfit whose high school experience was lackluster, to say the least. She’s friendless and lonely, and her grades were just okay, nothing spectacular; she even managed to land a boyfriend, even if he doesn’t seem to understand a thing about her. When she moves to Austin, Texas to begin college, she’s looking forward to the fresh start, for the opportunity to remake herself and fulfill her dream of being a writer. Sam is stuck, in every way. He works at a café and sleeps there also, holding on to the hope that this awful chapter of his life will be the inspiration for an award-winning film. But for right now, he’s only got seventeen dollars in his pocket, a crazy and magnetic ex-girlfriend that he can’t seem to stay away from, and a broken laptop. When Sam and Penny’s lives collide in an explosion of awkwardness, they swap phone numbers and stay in touch through text messages, and soon become inseparable digitally, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams, all without the weirdness that comes with a real relationship. But Penny and Sam soon realize that they may want to actually get to know their emergency contact outside of their phones, even if it comes with more than a few wrinkles.
This is the first book I’ve ever read by Mary H.K. Choi, and I can promise that it will not be the last. She’s written for magazines and wrote comics for both Marvel and DC (Kind of geeked out a little bit over that!), and it shows in her style. The prose was snappy, smart, and witty, and if I wasn’t crying, I was laughing. I was drawn in to the book immediately, and I really liked the way that Choi went between Penny and Sam, providing important and often hilarious details. I also loved the fact that both of them were pursuing a career in a creative field: Penny, writing, and for Sam, filmmaking. (I’m always such a sucker for nerds falling in love!) The format was unusual, but I really liked the way that a lot of the book was communicated through text; it made it go by quickly, and by the time I was invested, I didn’t want it to end. I loved the characters that Choi created: Penny and Sam, of course, were my favorites, but the supporting characters were hilarious too: Sam’s beautiful, careless ex, Lorraine, Penny’s mom, Celeste, and her roommate, Jude, even the prickly, slightly pretentious Mallory. I loved the ending, too; it was bittersweet, surprising, and really true to life. There were also many surprises that I wasn’t expecting; I was really expecting this to be light, but it was shockingly realistic. Emergency Contact is easily one of my favorite books of 2018; I wish I had a copy of my own so I could read it again, this time more slowly. I really loved it, and I’m looking forward to more from Mary H.K. Choi; I’m especially curious about the comics on her impressive resume. The bottom line: A smart, hilarious, and true to life love story that had me laughing, crying, and screaming with joy, I loved Emergency Contact! One of the best books of 2018, easy! Next on deck: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas!