Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi is a young adult contemporary novel that I absolutely could not put down. I’ll admit that I have been on a huge young adult fantasy kick, but this book was a breath of fresh air in between the dark and sometimes despairing universes.
I was so deeply invested in their story that I honestly did not care if they ended up together in the end. I hoped so because who doesn’t ship it besides Jude for a large majority of the book. Jude was such a nice character to contrast Penny and to bring her out of her shell a little. It takes Penny awhile to realize that they are even friends.
I related so much to Penny in the way that I want to be a writer and have had the same thoughts about my own writing at times. I see myself in Sam at times in the way he responded to certain events. It was just so easy for me to slip into their shoes and feel what they were feeling.
Sam is such a complex character and love interest. He starts off not wanting to be a love interest in a way and they just flow into it despite what is going on around them. He’s a character that strives to do better even though there are other factors pushing him down including himself. I can even put myself in his shoes especially when he is having a panic attack but thinks it’s a heart attack.
The most realistic part was how they communicated solely through text for a large majority of the novel. This is very much reflective of how we communicate in our society nowadays. Other realistic themes like; anxiety, depression, alcoholism, are portrayed by a wide variety of characters. They are done in a way that does not feel cheap or unreal, but in a way that flows around these characters and how they act.
There are interesting family dynamics played throughout the novel and how the characters deal with them. In the background we have Penny’s relationship with her mother, Sam’s with his, and even Jude with her divorcing parents. Jude and Sam have an family dynamic as well that even though the marriage ties dissolved, their ties did not. It even becomes a point of contention with her friends especially when she finds out that Penny and Sam have been texting the whole time.
The only downside I had with this novel was Penny’s actual story. I can admit that I skimmed over her anima story quite a bit. Compared to the rest of the book, it was dull in comparison. I was so much more invested in what was unfolding around it that it took away from the flow of the story.
I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 star rating. I breezed through this book because I was enjoying the roller coaster I was on. If you are looking for a great contemporary novel to read this summer then I would definitely pick this one up.