Emergency Contact by Mary H.K Choi, #54 review

Publication date: 27 March 2018

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.

Emergency Contact is here for those who feel alone in the world without a person to spill all the feels out. Sam and Penny are fictional characters that make you do a double check to see if they are legit fictional, the realness of emotion in this book is so vulnerable that you will want to send them baskets of homemade baked goods.

First of all, this is a book I’ve been wanting to read since it came out! The journey of reading this book took me way too long. I managed to snag a hardcover copy from Big Bad Wolf book fair 2019 for only RM10! Fancy that!! ONLY TOOK ME 5 MONTHS TO PICK THIS UP! I blame the Tbr pile, the other books kept burying Emergency Contact lower in the stack. Don’t worry, I punished them by putting them lower.

“I like knowing that you exist. It doesn’t make me feel any less lonely, because life is lonely, but it makes me feel a lot less alone.”

Staring Penny and Sam, the book’s residence geekheads and bottles of emotions that you didn’t know are there. They met in a coffeeshop (need I say more??). On the day Penny moved into her college dorm, she tagged along with her roomie to House, the coffee shop where Sam worked as a barista AND baker. Yeet, this dude bakes , and has expressive tattoos plus good hair. He’s basically a super good looking and yummy cinnamon roll. Whilst Penny is a full out English Lit nerd that struggles with communication. Penny is also Korean American, being so, she is expected to be very influenced in her culture as one may think. NOT. Mary H.K Choi throws that stereotype into the recycling bin, out pops a present character that represents all half Asians that aren’t in 100% in touch with their culture. I specifically love that Mary H.K Choi brought attention to writing techniques in Penny’s writing class in college. It made the experience of reading about Penny in college extra special as we get to see how she interacts with her classmates and the terrible void of assignments.

Their common ground consists of:
-Mom issues
-Nerd talk
-Deep conversations about feels
-Phones cement to their hands

Because these two, they communicate via text only, they are emergency contacts to one another. What does an EC entail? You are in a pact that requires you to be there for your other half during their troubling times. I knew I would like this book. Before I knew it, I finished it already, my only complaint is that the story is too short. I need more of Sam and Penny in my life! Sampenny is my favourite, ever! They represent a realistic heavy friendship and they are proof that growing up is difficult, the transaction from teen to adulthood is as brutal as the grim tales, life is always unexpected, and friends that are hardcore will startlingly drop out of nowhere to say: HELLO! YOU ARE STUCK WITH ME FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!

The attention to mental health is consistent, a lot of book just throw in mental health to make it stand out and diverse, they do not follow up on it or truly take readers through the heads’ of the characters. Mary H.K Choi does it as though you are living in the character’s mind when you’re reading. TRIGGER WARNING if you have anxiety. BEWARE!

Emergency Contact shares with readers what it is like to learn how to be friends from scratch again and let yourself be loved by others with a ton of baked goods. Seriously, you better prep snacks when reading this book. I hope you will pick up this book and have fun reading it. Or even half as much fun as I had. This book is an EXPERIENCE.

By elysianbooksish

The Bookish Faerie who loves to read and write, and bake too

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