By Mary H.K. Choi
Published by Simon & Schuster March 27, 2018
I’ll admit that I was first drawn to Emergency Contact by the beautiful cover, but the description also sounded intriguing. I enjoy books about the first year of college, as I think it can be an interesting setting for a coming of age tale.
I really enjoyed this book. The two main characters, Penny and Sam, are both a little broken. Penny is anxious, and she’s trying to figure things out at college and how to separate from her well-meaning, but very clueless mother, Celeste. (Celeste is very sweet, but she’s young and has no boundaries and wears crop tops. She’s the kind of mom that would make an 18-year-old cringe.)
Sam is 21. He’s just gotten out of a toxic relationship, and his ex doesn’t want to be with him but doesn’t want to let him go either. He’s broke and he lives in a room above the coffeeshop where he works. His laptop is dying, he can barely afford a community college class, and he worries that he’ll never be able to achieve his dream of making films.
Sam and Penny meet through her roommate Jude, who was briefly Sam’s step-niece (his mother was married to Jude’s grandfather) and then they run into each other on the street while Sam is having a panic attack. Penny is no stranger to panic, and she helps him out. They exchange numbers, and they begin a tentative texting relationship, becoming each other’s sounding boards.
Sam and Penny are both the kind of characters you want to be happy (I wanted to hug both of them, but Penny would probably not be down with that). I loved reading about them finding a connection. Yes, there’s a bit of romance, but it’s really about the kind of deep connection people can find. Much of the book is their text chains, and there’s also a lot of being inside their heads (the point of view switches between them in each chapter).
Emergency Contact reminded me a little bit of Fangirl, in that it features a prickly college freshman who wants to be a writer and a slightly older guy. But these are minor similarities, and Emergency Contact stands on its own. Like I said, I like books about the first year of college. This is a quiet sort of book.
I received an ARC from Amazon Vine.