“Romance was volatile, and if they came out of it with less than they had going in, she would be devastated.”
Spoiler Free Review
Title: Emergency Contact
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Genre: YA/NA, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: March 27th 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Star Rating: ★★★☆☆
Emergency Contact was one of those books that bought an interesting array of mixed reviews upon its release. Despite the fact that I’m not a huge contemporary reader, picking up a YA contemporary every now and again for a lighter read feels very homey.
I can happily say, Emergency Contact does just the trick. But it’s accompanied with important elements that heighten this story from your average fluffy YA contemporary to an honest young adult story about flawed characters.
Penny is a quirky and independent young woman heading off to college with aspirations of becoming an author. Penny was raised by her mother Celeste, a perfectly loving and affectionate single mum doing her best to raise her daughter on her own. Despite this, Penny holds slight contempt towards her mom for not being more like her idea of what a traditional Korean-American mother is.
“Okay, so maybe Penny’s idea of an Asian mom came from the movies, but she hadn’t grown up with a lot of Asians in her life. Let alone Koreans specifically.”
Penny’s view of her mother seems to be quite… confrontational amongst readers and understandably. I can really see it as the difference in whether you like this book or not. In fact, I think the opening scene will help you decide this. Personally despite being hesitant, I continued with the novel and found myself really satisfied with how the author challenges Penny’s flaws.
“Some guys wouldn’t call baking or the ability to make a Pikachu foam cappuccino topper particularly manly pursuits, but Sam wasn’t just any guy. He didn’t concern himself with how fist-pumping frat dudes with crippling masculinity issues and no necks spent their time.”
Sam has dreams of being a film director, but has since dropped out of college because of financial issues. He’s currently keeping himself afloat from living at the coffee shop he also happens to be working at. Sam is also such a gentle soul and I loved that. He also is an AMAZING baker, like what a dream?! More so, Sam with issues his terrible mother causes and an ex-girlfriend he is still really in love with.
“Just as she cried when she was mad, she needed a nap when faced with anxiety.”
I felt this story was really well balanced between being hilariously relatable and tackling sensitive issues such as rape, racism, anxiety and poverty. All of which are engaged with so well and elevate the characters and story. I would definitely trust Mary H.K. Choi to tackle touch issues in future novels.
“You worry because you hold yourself against these standards too. You’re way too hard on yourself. This analysis and thinking and plotting and figuring out, it’s stopping you from living your life. Just be, Penny. Don’t push people away.”
I’d highly recommend this if you enjoy slow-burn romances, and not so fluffy contemporary books. Despite the tough issues here, this book has a gentleness that warmed my heart and I hope this wonderful #ownvoices work finds its audience.