Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
“You know what I’m talking about,” she said. “You’ve known from the day we met. Even on text, where there are no inflections or nuance or tone for non sequiturs. You’ve always spoken fluent me.”
When Sam’s ex-girlfriend Lorraine – the great love of his life, the one who got away – tells him she’s pregnant, he has a panic attack. It’s the first time he’s ever experienced anything like it and he thinks he’s dying, so he’s lucky when his step-niece’s new college roommate appears out of nowhere and saves the day.
Penny is that roommate. The perpetual outsider, she struggled to fit in at high school and is already having the same issues at college. At least there are some pros: she’s managed to escape from her mother and is studying how to be a writer, her dream career. She exchanges numbers with Sam, vowing to be his emergency contact, but their blossoming text friendship makes her far too anxious to confront the possibility of seeing him IRL again.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know anything about Emergency Contact when I saw it on the list of Free Reads that Riveted Lit were offering near Valentine’s day, but I fell in love with the cover instantly. Not only does it introduce you to Penny and Sam, it’s also not ashamed to reveal that their friendship primarily plays out through their phones – an aspect of teenage life that a lot of YA authors avoid exploring.
I’ve made plenty of friends online who I’m unlikely to ever meet face-to-face (one of the perils of being a blogger!), so I very much related to the story. Some of the deepest friendships I’ve had have developed and grown through texts – sharing secrets in the dead of the night, able to voice thoughts that you’ve hardly even looked at head-on before – and I think that’s likely to become even more common in future generations. Technology and social media are here to stay, and they’ve altered the way that friendship works for good.
It’s difficult to review Emergency Contact without giving too much away – something I’ve been trying to avoid, which is why it’s taken me a week to write this post – but I will say that it’s a story about falling in love, not about being in love. Penny and Sam are the definition of a slow burn romance, and you will find yourself screeching in desperate need of a sequel when you turn the final page.
Emergency Contact is the most enjoyable YA contemporary I’ve read in a very long time, and it’s uplifting despite the fact that it deals with serious issues such as alcoholism and anxiety. Aimed at the upper YA age group, this book is perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl or anyone who is going through a big life change and feels alone.