Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
Publication Date: January 1st 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Blurb: From debut author Mary H.K. Choi comes a compulsively readable novel that shows young love in all its awkward glory—perfect for fans of Eleanor & Park and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
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.
If you love cute contemparies, you are going to love Emergency Contact. Emergency Contact follows Penny and Sam as they become something of a lifeline for each other as both deal with the shenanigans life throws at them.
This is a relatively quick but fun read. Choi has written such relatable characters in Sam and Penny. They are both easy to relate to in their own ways. Though they deal with some of the less fun aspects of being young adults finding themselves, Choi balances this with humour and hope.
It was really nice to read a contemporary novel with college-aged protagonists. Books with characters this age is something that I’d love to see more of in YA, not that I can’t relate to younger characters but you relate to characters that are going through the same kinda situations/life stage as you in a different way to characters facing situations that you’ve been through already in the past (if that makes sense!).
There are some darker moments between the texts. Penny’s past sexual assault is brought up towards the end of the book. I did think it was handled well however Penny does describe what happened on page so do be gentle with yourself if this is a trigger.
If you are looking for something cute, hilarious and relatable (not to mention a beautiful cover) I highly recommenced Emergency Contact!
“It wasn’t a romance; it was too perfect for that. With texts there were only the words and none of the awkwardness. They could get to know each other completely and get comfortable before they had to do anything unnecessarily overwhelming like look at each other’s eyeballs with their eyeballs.”
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*I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own*
About the Author
Mary H.K. Choi is a writer for The New York Times, GQ, Wired, and The Atlantic. She has written comics for Marvel and DC, as well as a collection of essays called Oh, Never Mind. She is the host of Hey, Cool Job!, a podcast about jobs, and is a culture correspondent for VICE News Tonight on HBO. Emergency Contact is her first novel. Mary grew up in Hong Kong and Texas and now lives in New York.