Review: Emergency Contact by Mary Choi

Monday, July 2, 2018

Emergency Contact
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 cafĂ© 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.

(Very slight spoilers)

When you really stop to think about it, it's not often we get a character like Penny. She's kind of... surely. She's quiet, she's disengaged,  you're not sure if she's a little mean or not. We just don't get characters like her every day. She reminded me of Cath from Fangirl, if anyone needs more context. 

I really did like this book, but I think I liked Sam more than Penny. The book kind of reads as if Penny was suppose to be the main character, even though the POV's switched back and forth between them, but I liked Sam more, and I think it was because of his story. Sam grew up poor with a mother who was constantly trying to find validation and support through a man (we know that story well), but the difference was watching Sam struggle with a relationship with his ex-step-sister, a constant reminder of what he's trying to escape. When you throw in the pregnant ex-girlfriend, and the fact that this man is a half step away from homelessness, I found myself more drawn to his story. 

I must say, I'm glad to see more contemporary books with Asian protagonists. Books Like Soundless, and Mila 2.0 are great to have in your back pocket, but we need to diversify through all genres, including contemporary romance which can fall behind the times, particularly when it comes to interracial relationships. Aside from some language issues, this book isn't too bad for the younger teens also, which is a win in my book.

4 stars

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