Okay guys, I read this baby in ONE DAY because the due date for the library really snuck up on me! I am so glad that I decided to read this instead of return it and check it out later.
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 café 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.
I got really swept up in this book. Whether it was because of the time crunch (see above) or the plotline, I’m not exactly sure. But one thing is for certain- I really enjoyed this book! I love that Sam, our broody bad boy, was a baker and an ugly-crier. I loved that Penny was so shy in person but such a spitfire in her head (same girl, same). The bond that these two form through their technology is real and relevant in our world today, and the friendship/romance was well-written. In general, I really loved the sarcasm, the humor, the heartbreak, and the overall feel-good nature of the book.
I may have a bit of favoritism toward Sam for a few reasons:
- I’m a sucker for tattoos, on our character and IRL
- I love when male characters actually have dimension and aren’t just there to serve as some plotpoint for our MC and her character development, and having a male character who cries and shows real emotion and BAKES?? I’m sold.
- Tragic. Backstory. Relating both to family and an ex-girlfriend, so it packs more of a punch, all the better to mess with my emotions (and I’m kind of a masochist with books, so bonus points!).
Now that we have those out of the way, I want you to know that I thought Sam was actually pretty well-written. I mentioned this before, but the author really gave this character some character! We experience so many emotions and go through a lot of character development (between present-day and some flashbacks) and it really makes this story go from a one-sided romance to a full-blown novel about friendship and personal development.
Penny is someone I really related to. She loves lists, she is much tougher and witty in her head than in real life, and she struggles with knowing how to create the future she wants. I really liked her character arc, though I do wish some of the aspects of her relationship with her mother had been resolved more by the end of the book.
I read some reviews that say Penny was “slut-shaming” her mother, but I think that Penny was just going through emotional and conflicting teenage years. From her perspective (which really drives a storyline), her mother was too busy focusing on herself and men half her age to give Penny the attention she wanted. Haven’t we all felt hurt after being seemingly brushed off by someone we love? Penny had a lot of resentment toward her mother because she had been feeling this for years without an outlet to express her frustrations. I don’t think this is a case of “slut-shaming” in the sense many claim it to be, but I do think it is a case of parent/child conflict, which is a great subplot for a book and reflects many peoples’ realities.
A Bit More
I really enjoyed the fact that this book took place in a college setting. I’m growing tired of every YA romance taking place in high school. I loved the freedoms this gave our characters and the opportunities to break away from some YA clichés it gave the author. It also allowed for some more “advanced” subplots, like first loves and first heartbreaks.
I mentioned this earlier, but the role technology played in this book was fantastic. I moved halfway across the country for college and use my phone everyday to communicate with my friends back home. It is easy to start to feel lost in the technology and become dependent more on the device rather than the person on the other end, much like Penny pointed out.
AS much as I really loved the technology aspect of the story, it did make the plot seem a bit slow at times. This is one of those books where not a lot really happens, but there is a lot of character development and small-scale conflicts that get pieced together into the story. The sometimes-slow pace and the lack of resolution with Penny’s mother are my only two complaints with Emergency Contact. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book! It was a feel-good YA contemporary romance that is perfect for a rainy day indoors.
If you have read Emergency Contact and are looking for your next read, check out one of these similar books:
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
YA contemporary romance, aspiring writer MC, family issues, college setting
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Virtual correspondence, YA contemporary romance, feel-good read