Book Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Number of Pages: 343
Date Published: June 23, 2015
Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?
Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.
She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.
Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.
He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.
Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?
Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.
He looked like a stranger, and then he met my glance, and it was like I had never stopped seeing him.
I laughed so hard while reading this book. It was honest and fun and had just the right amount of wittiness and fluff to keep me going.
Emmy and Oliver were childhood friends separated by an unfortunate incident – a kidnapping perpetuated by Oliver’s father. All of a sudden, their lives are consumed by searching; the entire community distressed because of one dreadful occurrence. Then without warning, Oliver returns and along with his arrival a struggle of all sorts – restless families, missed opportunities, forgotten relationships, etc. Then there’s Emmy, filled with hesitation and longing, who hopes to restore their severed ties, but how does one restart a friendship without putting forward memories of a painful and complicated past?
The thing I liked most about this book is that it really gets the reader emotionally involved. The blurb makes it seem like it’s just some run-of-the-mill contemporary, but really it’s more than teenagers falling in love and finding themselves. The entire story revolves around the complexity of Oliver’s situation.
Initially, I imagined Oliver as this rebel guy with anger management issues, but he’s actually the opposite. He is quiet and aloof with this huge mess of confusion inside of him. However, what’s more interesting is that it’s not just Oliver who has to live with the turmoil. The kidnapping also affected Emmy (more gravely, imo) because her life has basically turned into a prison cell (semi, if that makes it better).
I can relate to her situation, having overprotective parents and all, but I cannot imagine being told to go to bed at 8 in the evening, sulking in my room when my phone gets taken away, or worse being robbed of my right to decide for myself.
Don’t go blaming Emmy’s parents though because here’s another compliment. This novel carefully presents everyone’s perspective. Our thinking has to go beyond the assumption that the characters’ actions are selfish and unreasonable, because at the end of the day, everything made perfect sense. I can empathize with everyone, and that’s something that very rarely happens.
Another thing I could not get enough of was the beautiful friendship between Emmy and Caro, Emmy and Drew, Emmy and Oliver, etc etc. The four of them seemed like a magical squad. This friendship is also why you shouldn’t think that this book is too serious or too dramatic for your taste. It just makes everything better.
The dialogue is hilarious. Emmy’s parents are unexpectedly cool despite their usual panicked states.
“Tonight sucked” my dad said and I started to laugh hearing him say that. “What?” He smiled at me. “Isn’t that the slang you kids are using? The lingo? Do I sound hip?”
I just shook my head. “The only hip I hear is the sound of yours breaking.”
The twins are too cute. Caro’s responses are classic, and of course, there’s Drew. Drew is my personal favorite. I want to take him out of the book, hug him, squish him, and join him in drinking coffee and gawking at baristas.
“Emmy, you are a saint among saints,” Drew said, then hugged me to his side as we walked down the hall. “Let the healing bonds of friendship ease all of our wounds!”
“Oh, shut up.”
“That’s not very saintly language,” he pointed out, then kissed the top of my head and then released me with a shove.
“Now get off me before Kevin thinks I’m straight.”
“He’s homeschooled. He doesn’t even go to school here.”
“Rumors, Emmy. They respect no boundaries.”
The only thing that I didn’t fancy was the romance between Emmy & Oliver. Was it the pacing? I’m not really sure. I am aware that I’m a sucker for slow-burn romance, so I guess a romance halfway through the story wasn’t enough to make me squeal. Surprisingly, I think I was looking forward to their development as friends (yes, just friends) so much so that I wanted to see them conquer the world without romance in the picture. I don’t know, I find that more comforting (and sweeter maybe?) than the usual I fell in love with my best friend scenario. Nevertheless, the character development of not just Emmy and Oliver but also the rest of gang was enough to sustain my interest.
In the end, I’d easily recommend this book to just about anyone with a penchant for flawed but well-developed characters, LoL-worthy conversations, and delightful friendships. Go and read this book. It will be fun, I promise.
Favorite Quotes from Emmy & Oliver
“Well, that’s growing up, isn’t it?” my dad said. “You don’t always have to know. And things aren’t always fair. You just have to keep moving forward. A step in one direction.”
That’s when I first learned about true frustration, that wrenching ache when the thing that matters most to you barely makes a ripple in other people’s lives.
“Can you pass me the slutty one, please?” I handed her the bottle of bright-red nail polish. “I think it’s actually called Crimson Cabaret,” I said. “Don’t be a slut-shamer.”