I like knowing that you exist. It doesn’t make me feel any less lonely, because life is lonely, but it makes me feel a lot less alone.
–Emergency Contact, Mary HK Choi
By Mary HK Choi
“Smart and funny, with characters so real and vulnerable, you want to send them care packages. I loved this book.” —Rainbow Rowell
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.
I originally picked up this book because of Rainbow Rowell’s blurb. I love Rowell’s writing and so I gave this book a shot. When I started this book I did not like it. I kind of wrote it off because of the dual narratives and the “obvious” plot line of the book.
Then I got about 50 pages in. At that point I had grown to love and appreciate the characters within the book. Their personalities and growth totally overshadowed the fact that I could predict what the end result was going to be.
The characters in this book felt real. They weren’t based on stereotypes or over-generalizations. The characters really spoke for themselves. I felt like I was reading stories that hadn’t yet been told. These were new fresh characters.
Using texting as a main form of communication. In a book can be difficult. Often it comes across cheesy and out of the loop. However, I appreciated the texts throughout this book. They were real conversations. Not all of them were heavy and serious yet they weren’t all just lighthearted jokes either. Choi found the balance
There were some things in the book that did take away from the story. Some plot points felt forced and there are definitely some strange twists with the book. But, all of those things were easily overlooked for me.
This book was great. I’m excited to read more from Choi since this was her debut novel. I will definitely be picking up her next one.
What do you look for in contemporary novels?