Book Review

Book Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 394 pages
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 27th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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 other.

DIDN’T JIVE WITH THE WRITING.

That would be my biggest issue. Nothing clicked quite the way I think it was supposed to. I kept reading because I was [mostly] enjoying the story, but things never changed. I thought things would randomly get political or twists would be thrown in that I didn’t think were necessary or helpful to the plot as a whole.

I did enjoy the interactions between Penny and Sam. I thought they were sweet and I love the modern era love story of getting to know each other through texts/phone calls. It was clever that she became his emergency contact. The college age setting was nice too. I wish there were more YA/New adult books set in college. This isn’t a slow-burn romance in anyway though. Mostly infatuation that turns into love all of a sudden.

This book seemed overly dramatic at times. Like it was trying to see how awful things could get before a resolution kind of came about. I don’t mind this usually in books because I understand the flow of the story. This came out a bit jarring and I was upset with how broken these characters were written out. Maybe I thought this was going to have a bit more sunshine.

I also felt like NOTHING HAPPENED. There was some focus on Sam’s documentary and on Penny’s writing class, but I never got to see the end of them? It was annoying to have a bunch of loose threads. I know it wasn’t the main part of the story, but it was definitely discussed more than enough to have needed things tied up.

Having someone as a friend, in whatever capacity that may be, was a great concept for this book though. We all need someone to lean on and I loved seeing Penny and Sam turn towards each other in their times of need.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary (college age)
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger warnings: alcoholism, page 290 – a moderately detailed rape scene (main character telling her story)

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Book Review

Book Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fiction
Length: 277 pages
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Square Fish
Expected Release Date: September 9th, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.

Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward?

This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

AN INTERESTING CONCEPT.

This was a SUPER quick read. And a very interesting take on heaven.

The whole idea of someone aging backwards until their a baby again in the land of Elsewhere was a bit odd and troublesome to me, but I thought it was unique to think about. While this didn’t change any personal concepts on what I believe the afterlife is like I still found it thoughtful.

It’s a very moving and bittersweet story for Liz, who’s life is cut way too short by an accident. She had to cope with grief and depression to find the hope that she could in her new world. Liz definitely pulled at my heart strings. I love the characters that were in her world and how they each brought something to the story. Betty, Owen, Thandi, and more surrounded Liz when she needed it to help her move on.

It’s even more well-imagined when I got to the dog portion. OHEMGEE talking dogs? SERIOUSLY ALL I WANT. I love the perspective and life and love that came from having a dog in the afterlife. They were cute and spunky and I wanted to hug them all.They also brought a different layer to the story because they were constantly just as thoughtful as the humans.

I like that there was a tiny touch of romance and overwhelming friendships. I think Liz needed something like that to understand her story of life and death. While wildly different they can also be wildly similar.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fiction
  • Language: little
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: discussion of death and how people died (some included were: cancer, overdose, hit and run, gunshot wound, plane crash, flu and more)

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