Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & Oliver

“..things aren’t always fair. You just have to keep moving forward. A step in one direction.”

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.

Personal Thoughts:

Have you seen all the YA contemporary books I’ve been reading lately and the other titles waiting in my TBR pile? Well, if you’ll check my previous reviews you will see that most of my contemporary reads deals with heavy themes such as depression, suicide and the likes. With that plus the “kidnapping” plot from the book blurb I go reading Emmy & Oliver ready for another heavy drama or tragic story but surprisingly get a fun, simple and realistic read.

Actually, this could have been easily a tragic story if Robin Benway chose to narrate the story in Oliver’s perspective – a victim of kidnapping. Instead she let her readers experience Oliver’s story through the point of view of one who was left behind – Emmy.

Emmy is Oliver’s best friend. They basically grew up together. They share the same birth date, friends, neighborhood, and school until Oliver disappear one day. Emmy and her family together with Oliver’s mom never stopped looking for Oliver. Since Oliver’s disappearance her life changed but she never lose hope of finding her best friend but when Oliver finally found she realized that things are not gonna back the same way.

“I wanted you to come home so bad that I never thought about what would happen after. I just wanted my friend back.”

Oliver on the other hand feels lost even after returning home. It’s like being kidnapped all over again. For everyone his Dad is the wrongdoer but inspite of that he can’t hate his Dad because he is also the same guy who took care of him for the past ten years. He wasn’t mistreated or abused instead he was loved and nurtured.

“Coming home is like being kidnapped all over again,”

Robin Benway created a witty and hilarious character with Emmy to tell a meaningful story of lost, grief, hope and self-discovery. The dialogues between Emmy and the people around her are both fun and insightful. No lyrical or flowery details but straight and realistic dialogues from realistic characters. As much as I am intruguie to hear Oliver’s point of view, I am glad that Robin choose to tell this story in Emmy’s perceptive not only because Emmy is a witty character but also because it makes the story more rounded and less conflicted.

Without being too serious or boring, Robin Benway managed to show the consequences of Oliver’s disappearance and return. Through Emmy’s eyes she shows how everyone’s life changed from one incident.

As for Oliver, I really feel for him. Imagining myself in his situation, I know I will lose it. That’s why I understand why he is very protective of his father inspite of what his father’s did. In his mind his father took care of him and when he found out that he was actually kidnapped it’s a shattering revelation. It’s not easy to take all those in and know how to feel about it. His struggle to do the right thing and to protect the one he love is very well felt.

On its surface, Emmy & Oliver is a very affecting romance but on the other side is a story of friendship, family and self-discovery. It’s about getting lost and getting yourself into the path of rediscovery, forgiveness, and love. A bittersweet story that is light and surprisingly fun in-spite of the heavy topics it deals with.

*This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.

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