Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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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 seeeach other.


Emergency Contact is different. Good different or bad different...that's something I tried to figure out through the entirety of the book.

Two things are for sure, though, it's quirky & eccentric.

The characters were occasionally more unlikable than likable. By the end, however, I was fully enamored. Yes, Sam and Penny weren't my idea of the nicest characters ever, but they felt real. They were flawed. Sometimes they were mean, sometimes they were caring, sometimes they were loving, and sometimes they were hateful, but at the end of the day, they felt like *actual* people and I came to love that. Also, by the end, I was 100% on their side, rooting for them every step of the way. I wanted Penny to come to terms with her mom, embrace her happy-go-lucky roommate Jude, and maybe even be a tad less cynical. I wanted Sam to see that sometimes you have to make do with what you have and accepting people into your orbit didn't have to be the worst thing in the world.

Emergency Contact  isn't exactly a romance. It's more a finding yourself and accepting who you are kind-of-read. It's addresses the messy parts of life as well as the sad and the happy. It's also about finding your "emergency contact" (a.k.a. your *person*), and I loved that idea/concept. Sam and Penny were the a dynamic duo, and I loved the slow-burn aspect to their friendship/romance. Mary did such a fantastic job of expanding upon their bond through texts, calls, and in person hangouts. Additionally, the college backdrop worked especially well here. It fit in well with the overall themes and ideas.

Overall, Mary H.K. Choi has an incredibly special novel here, and I can't wait to talk about it with others! As for the Rainbow Rowell comparison? I can definitely see it.

4 stars!! 


  1. I got this one unsolicited in the mail and had no idea what it was about. Sounds like an interesting story. I do like unlikable characters!

  2. I like that the characters are real and flawed, and the college setting is cool!

  3. I recently just heard of this book and was intrigued by the synopsis. The story sounds like an interesting concept and I'll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing your review.

  4. I just finished this one this morning. I liked it a lot. It lost a little steam for me, when it veered off into Penny's story for too long. I guess it was supposed to have something to do with her personal development? But, I was really happy with the character growth, and I loved the concept.


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