July 2, 2015

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Publication date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC via Edelweiss (Thanks!)
Summary: 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? (greads.com)

The good
Emmy & Oliver is tragic, messy, complicated, romantic and a dozen other adjectives. I could pretty much just start and end this review with buy it now but I’m going to tell you a little bit more about why I loved it. Emmy & Oliver were childhood best friends and next-door neighbors. Then Oliver’s father kidnapped him when they were seven years old, changing everyone and everything left in the wake of their disappearance. Oliver’s mother desperately tried to find him. Emmy and her parents supported her in whatever capacity they could. In turn, Emmy’s parents became really protective of her. And Emmy never once forgot Oliver. Now she’s 17 and trying to live her life. She loves surfing, has dreams of going away for college (things her parents are completely unaware of). But life throws another curveball and changes all their lives yet again when Oliver is found and returned home. Right back next door to Emmy.

Even though the book is told completely from Emmy’s perspective, each and every character felt incredibly real to me. There’s Emmy who is headstrong, a little awkward and constantly made me laugh. There are her two best friends, Caro and Drew, whose personalities jump off the pages. All three characters had distinct individual voices and the dialogue between them genuinely felt like listening to a real and oftentimes banter-filled conversation among friends. And of course, there’s Oliver. His voice was very clear to me as well but in a different way than the others. A mix of confusion and sadness definitely permeate his character at first and really, who can blame him? His entire life in upheaval. Everyone, Emmy included, wants to pick up where they left off and move forward with him but it’s a huge struggle for Oliver. He doesn’t remember them much or at all and for so long it’s just been him and his father. His dad may be the “bad guy” in the story but for Oliver, that’s still the man who raised him. The author does a great job of illustrating how Oliver is navigating through all these changes in his life. And the person who allows him to be him, is Emmy.

I loved Emmy and Oliver’s relationship. Aside from being a sucker for childhood loves, I loved the natural progression of their relationship. It was difficult and awkward and then slowly but surely, the connection that existed between them before sparks up again. I couldn’t get enough of every moment they shared. But aside from that, I just loved Emmy and how she started taking a stand in her life. There’s this turning point in the book where she speaks openly to her parents and it was one of my favorite moments.

(No) reservations
If you’ve made it this far through my review, it’s safe to say I have no reservations.

Do I recommend?
I highly recommend this book! I loved the characters, the relationships and how the author handled the complexity of this situation.

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

What is your earliest memory with a friend?
I wasn't sure what my answer would be when I suddenly remembered something from pre-school. There was a boy I was friends with and had this tendency to follow me around (he may have had a little crush on me!). I have this memory of sitting inside our classroom's toy chest playing (I don't know why I was sitting in it) and him pulling up a seat next to me to keep me company. Us just going back and forth with toys. We stayed friends all the way until 2nd grade when I moved to New Jersey.  

3 comments:

  1. I am so excited to get my hands on this book! I LOVE childhood loves/romances and it always makes me wish I had one of my own. I think that Robin Benway's books get better and better. I loved that Caro, Drew, and Oliver each had their own personalities even though this is told from Emmy's POV! Great review!

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  2. I'm with you, I loved this book. I had certain reservations that it would be similar to Where the Stars Still Shine, but it was thankfully so different and I loved it for that. I think I connected with it because I am as awkward as Emmy is and I adored the friendship between Caro, Drew, Emmy and Oliver, that their friendship sort of continued between the absence of Oliver but the absence of Oliver was ever present in their lives. Fantastic review on this I totally agree.

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  3. What an adorable childhood memory! It made me smile reading about your friendship. And I absolutely agree with your thoughts on Emmy & Oliver! I enjoyed getting to know Emmy, Oliver, Caro, Drew and everyone else; I think Benway handled this story in the best way.

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