Skip to main content

Book Con Review: Emergency Contact

This is the first in a series for the next few months showcasing all the books I bought at Book Con! They will all be showcased next week in my March book haul!

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (393 pages)
Overview: Penny is going off to college at UT to finally go after her creative writing dreams, even if they don't feel valid yet. This makes her the perfect match for Sam who's living above the cafe he works at as a baker. Sam has a dream he can't own yet either. Becoming a director. But that's for rich people, and Sam is far from rich which has cost him a girlfriend, a shot at his dream, and a relationship with his mother. Penny and Sam find that having someone at the other end of their phone might be the key to unlocking their potential. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Wow. I love Penny. She has to deal with self doubt, anxiety, and awkward encounters as she makes her way through college. Penny starts unsure of herself and her identity because she's never really gotten to form one, taking care of herself in the shadow of her young, larger than life mom. Eventually, selective, careful Penny finds a tribe that she can lean on while she dreams.
Sam lives his life in the moment, unsure of what the future will hold. His current situation works well enough except for Lorraine, his longterm, volatile girlfriend. Penny works as a stabilizer in his life even though her world moves so fast. They cancel out the other's chaos in a way that only your person can.
As the book is told in third person, I do feel that Choi is almost a part of this in a deeper way influencing the delivery in a way that is almost a voice independent from Penny and Sam's as it moves through their chapters. While Choi's voice is clear, the tone is very much in tune with the character's current place so that it evolves along with them. This is a unique aspect to this book that I'd never experienced before.

Plot: 5 This story blew me away. I love how complete a world is crafted in these pages that exist mainly between the dorms and the caffe. This book shows just how engrained cell phones are in our culture and how that isn't necessarily the tragedy the world makes it out to be. Penny and Sam have a very legitimate relationship that grows over the ability to communicate long distance. It's a true example of how a new generation has interpreted genuine communication.
While I think that the slow evolution of romance, holding out on the boarder of friendship till the bitter end, makes for an amazing story, the most striking part of the novel for me came in a single, brief chapter. While it's not widely discussed in the synopsis or promo, Penny is a sexual assault survivor. In a very vulnerable scene, she reveals the fact to Sam. She explains what happened to her and her uncertainty around how much she was to blame. Not at all. And if she was wrong for not reporting it. Sam takes in this information with the perfect amount of reassurance and reads her cues about how far to probe. It never really comes up again, but it's a window into Penny and her reasoning as well as a look into an experience that rings too true to many women today. It's a quiet scene that truly moved me, and I thank Choi for infusing her book with so much honesty and vulnerability.

Writing: 5 What struck me from the beginning about this story is how fully fleshed out the world is. It's so set in our current time that it feels almost like reading historical fiction. If people twenty years in the future read this book, they would be able to understand exactly what life in 2018 was like for college kids. But this isn't to say the book won't age well. Regardless of where and how you live, you will connect with Penny and Sam's story because you will see the world through their eyes instead of your own while you're holding the book. I give Mary a tremendous round of applause for her work and her story and her bravery. To Buy The Book: Click Here

More Like This:
Fangirl: Click Here
Definitions of Indefinable Things: Click Here

Links of Interest:
All Out Of Pretty: Review Here
The Fall of Butterflies: Review Here
America Panda: Review Here
Love, Simon Movie Review: Review Here
*The product link is through the Amazon Associates program so I may receive a portion of the sale at no extra charge to you.*
If you liked this article, please share it with your friends and check out our other articles ranging from book reviews to poetry and short stories to editorials. To get updates about new posts and extras, please follow us on Instagram (@readingwritingandme), Twitter (@readwriteandme), and Facebook or sign up for email alerts by clicking the subscribe button at the top of the sight. Also, please leave comments or email us (readingwritingandme@gmail.com) with your thoughts or review requests. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pride

Pride by Ibi Zoboi (September 18)
Overview: Though it's billed as a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, this story is all its own. Zuri is a proud citizen of Bushwick. She loves her family, her neighbors, and the character that surrounds her. She and her many sisters have spent months speculating about who is moving into the renovated home across the street. They don't expect Darius and Ainsley Darcy, wealthy, private school boys that don't fit with the vibe of the neighborhood. Despite their differences, Darius and Zuri grow closer, and between dealing with her sisters and mounting college applications, they find a spark that might be too hot to ignore. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 The characters are very well formed. Probably because they are so steeped in the vivid world Zoboi paints, we feel their essence from the very first page. From the refined Darcy twins to the chaotic group of four sisters all cooped up in one bedroom, the people in Zuri's world help us learn about …

Radio Silence

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (496 pages)
Overview: Frances has always known her across the street neighbor Aled Last in the periphery. He was Carry Last's sister until she disappeared. Now he's head boy Daniel's best friend. When she and Aled are thrust together on a drunken train ride home, Frances learns she's a lot closer to Aled than she thought. He's the mysterious creator of her favorite narrative podcast, Universe City. But when his identity surfaces on the internet in connection to Universe City, it all starts to fall apart for their friendship, and  Aled's life. Overall: 5

Character: 5 Frances, Aled, and Daniel are all extremely real people. France lives her life caught up on the dream of getting into Cambridge. If it's not helping her admissions prospects, she's not doing it- unless it's under a pen name and involving Universe City fan art. Over the course of the book, she realizes that the Frances in her head that she projects and the Fran…

One of Us Is Lying

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (360 pages)
Overview: Five kids are in detention. Only four come out alive, and they become the prime suspects of the most botched police investigation ever. They're the beauty, the jock, the brains, and the slacker. They barely know each other, but they're all tied together in one way or another to Simon, the school gossip leader with a severe peanut allergy. When all their secrets come out, the police investigation become the least of their worries. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I loved McManus's cast. We get to see prospective from all three of them which is a nice touch. Each of them are a take on a classic stereotype. While they fulfill almost all of the regular archetypes, she makes them deeper, more human and relatable. I particularly loved Browneyn and Nate who are in the classic good girl/bad boy relationship, but somehow she makes it cute and irresistible not tired and cliche. I also loved the sister relationships that get explor…

Spotlight Review: Heretics Anonymous

Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry (August 7)
Overview: Micheal has moved four times in ten years. This time, the move has landed him at a prestigious Catholic school instead of the local public school. This does not go well with his atheist beliefs. On his first day, he meets Lucy, an outspoken Catholic girl who's frustrated that she can't change anything about the flaws she sees in the church she loves. She introduces him to the underground club, Heretics Anonymous where students of other faiths come to vent about the unfair policies of the school. Spurred into action by Micheal's fire, the atheist, gay, Jewish boy, pagan girl, Unitarian boy, and Catholic leader make changes in the school that no one will forget. Overall: 5+++

Characters: 5 This book carries a deeply complex narrative that is driven by the amazing detail put into each characters. One of the great tenants of writing is understanding that every character has their own wants and motivations. This is one of the…

Spotlight Review: 500 Words or Less

500 Words or Less by Juleah de Rosario (384 pages)
Overview: Nic Chen is not whole. Starting senior year, she's a fragment of parts she doesn't know how to reconcile. She's at the top of her class. She's Kitty's best friend. But she's also the girl with "whore" written in bright orange lipstick across her locker. Who's missing her boyfriend. And her childhood best friend who's abandoned her. It isn't until she's tasted with writing everyone else's college essays that she starts to piece together who she really is. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 I loved Nic. She sees the world in an interesting and beautiful way. She's critical and analytical, but she is also full of longing and emotional connection. She challenges the double standard and inequality. She questions the people around her and how they've changed- how some have been allowed by the world to change more than others.
The parsing of the parental relationships is also intere…

What If It's Us

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (448 pages)
Overview: Ben and Arthur meet at the post office during a flashmob. Well, Arthur followed Ben into the post office because he thought he was and, and, just as they started talking, in true form with Arthur's New York fantasy, a flash mob erupted. When the boys and split up, Arthur loses his chance at connecting with Ben, but when he can't stop thinking about him, he explores ways to reconnect even in a city of a million empty faces like New York. Even if they can find each other, with Arthur going back to Georgia at the end of the summer, will it even be worth it? Overall: 4/5

Characters: 4.5 I'm not sure what to say about the characters. I liked them enough, but I didn't feel any real attachment to any of them. I liked the cast of friends, but they all lacked a certain weight that would give them a stronger sense of reality. My favorite relationship in the book was the friendship between Dylan and Ben.…

Warcross

Warcross by Marie Lu
Overview: Emika is a bounty hunter with $13 to her name and an eviction notice on her door. Then she's the hacker girl who glitched into Warcross. And then she becomes Hideo's personal bounty hunter who stands to win ten million dollars. Emika's life has changed a lot, and it only gets more complicated as she gets deeper and deeper into the world of Henka Games. Overall: 4 

Characters: 5 Okay, it's hard to go into this much without getting spoiler-ey, but I'll be vague. First off, I loved Emika. She's a great main character with the right amount of sensibility and emotion. What was really impressive though, was how Marie Lu plays with character evolutions. At the end of the book, there will be a moment where you put the book down and go wow at how Marie is able to twist shades of good and evil making us think about the grey.

Plot: 4 I finished this book in a few days thanks to its fast pace and urgency. While some of the game descriptions were…

Into YA Interview: Eric Smith

Today I have an extra awesome post for all of you! As part of my new series, Into YA focused on giving you a look into what goes on before the book gets into your hands, I'm talking to rockstar agent Eric Smith (who is also an author himself)! If you don't follow him on Twitter over at @ericsmithrocks, then you should be. He has one of the best Twitter accounts.

1. How did you decide to become a literary agent?
I'd been working in publishing for a number of years, at Quirk Books, an indie publisher in Philadelphia known for books like Pride & Prejudice & Zombiesand Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, when I decided it was time to really focus on books that I wanted to work on. I loved everything we did at Quirk, but I wanted to focus on more Young Adult books, as well as the kind of literary fiction I loved. So... along came my colleagues at P.S. Literary, and it's been a happy place for the past three years. 
2. Like me, many of my readers are author…

Why I Write Mostly Positive Reviews (Also Why It's Okay To DNF a Book)

You may or may not have noticed, but the reviews I post on the site have shifted a lot in the last few months. The average star rating of books I post about has shifted from a 3 to a 4, and the reviews are overwhelmingly more positive. I have lots of standout books, and 5 stars are no longer a rare occurrence like they were before.
This isn't because I've gotten less critical or careful with my reading and ranking. I still want to give the most honest content and only pair people with books I love. It's happened because I don't read books I'm not enjoying anymore. While I used to feel obligated to finish every book I picked up, I no longer feel tied to that seeming "reader rule."
I used to figure I had to give books at least to thirty or fifty percent or just barrel all the way through. This made me only pick books I was sure I would love. Even with that test, you can't know whether you'll like the voice or the writing.
It took school getting bus…

The Lake Effect

The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan (391 pages)
Overview: Lake Michigan is beautiful. That's why the town of South Haven draws so many tourists, or in this case, seasonal workers. Briggs gets the chance to return to the lake for a summer to work for an old woman looking for live in summer help. Though the lake promises beautiful days and abundant fun, it also opens him up to many new worlds. That of his Serbian employer oozing with spunk, the unintentionally mysterious girl next door, Abigail, and the whole crew of townies who fill his afternoons with beach volleyball. The time away also offers a fresh prospective on the family he left behind and his future priorities. Though he knew about the weather, the Lake Effect was something much greater than he anticipated. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Wow. So, I have to  say that when the book started, I was fine with Briggs but nothing special. He was the kind of guy who came from a somewhat privileged background that was a machine towards wealth …