I’d seen so much about this book around, and the lovely Sachi over at @sachireads on Bookstagram adored it and I trust her taste in diverse reads, so when Simon & Schuster offered me a copy of the book to review I jumped at the chance!
Emergency Contact follows the story of Penny, who is entering her first year in college. She’s smart, witty, introverted, and a little dark – so certainly not the typical YA teen we’re used to reading. After a random, and somewhat scary, encounter with Sam on the city streets, the two exchange numbers and so kicks off their friendship (purely over text). They’re not your regular kind of emergency contact, but they do save each other in their own way.
The narration alternates between Penny and Sam’s points of view. The thing I loved about this was when they were in the same room or scene, halfway through an interaction we’d swap from Penny to Sam without skipping a beat. Choi has made their voices so distinct that it’s never a confusing or jarring change, and it adds depth to the story. There are a small cast of fabulous characters in this book, and reading them from both Penny and Sam’s perspectives makes them shine even more. Choi has done a fantastic job of building out the characters in this novel!
I loved reading from a POC point of view and it really does add another layer to this book. I’m excited for the day where it’s not out of the ordinary to be reading from the perspective of someone who isn’t white, but in the meantime Choi writes Penny absolutely perfectly – a character who isn’t afraid to pull people up on their casual racism, in a firm but calm way, makes me think that it will help people educate themselves rather than being turned off by something too confronting. I hope that makes sense…it’s nearly Christmas and my brain is well and truly on holiday!
I also loved that Sam’s character is a white male but never really makes comments on the fact Penny is Korean, her other traits are so much stronger and her personality is so interesting that it’s not even really a factor to him through the book. Not to say he discounts it, but it’s refreshing to read a book where there isn’t even a stupid line about “oh but I don’t care that you’re *insert minority here*”.
On a personal note, this is the first book I’ve ever annotated for a friend to read (a.k.a left post-it-notes all over the book that are mostly just exclamations). It was the perfect book to do it with, too, because it really is an emotional read. I genuinely laughed, I genuinely held back tears, and I genuinely wanted to stand up and yell “WHAT?!?! wait, WHAT!” at various parts of the book. Any book that evokes those kinds of reactions (and such varying moods!) makes it a pretty stellar read to me.
Rating: I loved this book. It was an easy enough YA read, but deals with the tougher issues of addiction, poverty, sexual assault, and more, which makes it a fabulously layered and interesting read.
AU Release date: 01 January 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
I hope you’re all getting a little break at this time of year, and have time to pick up that book that’s been waiting patiently all year 😉
Until next time,
Thanks go to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.