Emergency Contact by Mary H.K Choi
Publication date: January 1, 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Source : Publisher
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
Emergency Contact is the debut from Choi about two young people who can’t seem to get it together until they met each other by chance. An own novel embracing the 21st century lifestyle and how growing up is never easy. It’s welcome addition to my shelves given the beautiful narration and the awkward cute Penny and loveable but downtrodden Sam.
This is the sort of own voice novel I want to read in Contemporary YA The story alternative between Penny and Sam as they navigate the first semester of a new year at UT. Penny is the awkward unsociable freshman writer who is determined to become the next bestseller. Yet she quite seem to get things right. Her voice is naive not quite understanding the situation at hand whether it be real life or her fictional reality. It’s slightly off putting but it’s necessary as whilst she tries to sort out life and becoming the number one person in someone’s life. In fact until she embraces the problems of Sam, you have to wonder where Penny going. Her life is controlled by her choices and it not the sort of life I would wished on anyone
On the other hand is Sam who is a baker who is dropped out of college and living a room above his work place. He is struggling with the decisions that he has made and how they have come back to haunt him. His voice is unapologetic and willing to make a change yet he can’t seem to get there. Until Penny rescues him and they embrace on this text messaging relationship on the guise of being emergency contacts for each other. It seems to open Sam’s mind. His thoughts about life and how it’s been unfair pour out on these pages. He carries the book for the first few chapters. He is more of a compelling character despite his own introvert tendencies and being pushed out of his comfort zone.
Despite its YA label, there more to this book then you think. It’s definitely cute and quirky. It’s also very passionate about the issues that are prevalent in today’s society .Choi embraces the issues and whilst it’s confronting on some levels , it’s not a token approach. Penny approach to the casual racism is refreshing as despite her being an introvert she never stands down when she is attacked. It adds a level of complexity to Penny and lends a hand in building what is to come with this book.
What was the highlight is the slow friends to love romance narrative that takes place over the course of the book. Choi makes sure to embrace their similar backgrounds and use it to build their challenging friendship. It’s cute they never seem quite sure how to handle the curveballs life has thrown them with the people involved. Yet through text messaging , their words seem to flow and provide an insight that is need for this book as things slowly translated from technology to face to face contact.
Emergency Contact is all about embracing differences and life. It’s not apologetic in its ways and offers a story that will appeal to readers because the candidness that allows the characters to shine. I can’t wait to read the next book from this author as we need own voice novels like this . Not afraid to tackle the big and the small issues without overpowering one over the other.
Meet 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.