Book Review & Discussion: Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi

If you know me, you’d know thathttp_yourlifeafter25.comwp-contentuploads201803Emergency-Contact-Cover I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary books, so I was pretty skeptical of the hype when I first started reading. Needless to say, I was happily surprised! 🎉😊 Emergency Contact was the thoughtful, feel-good read that I didn’t know I needed. 

The story is filled with growing friendships and amazing character development. At the same time, it doesn’t shy away from real topics. It covers conflicts the characters have with their families, the little awkward moments faced when forming friendships, pursuing careers that others do not view as practical, etc.

Spoiler-free Summary: 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. 

TW: sexual assault, alcholism

I give Emergency Contact 4.5/5. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ It’s cute and nerdy yet also relatable and eye-opening. If you’re debating whether or not to pick it up, I definitely recommend you do! It’s definitely not your typical contemporary book. In fact, I’d consider it more slice-of-life. Still, it left me feeling all fuzzy inside and craving some pastries and lattes. 🍩🍰☕

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD 

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The Writing 

One of the coolest aspects of the writing that stood out to me was reading Penny’s writing. 😎 We were essentially reading Penny’s story about the Anima and Mrs. Kim, so it felt like inception where we saw the development of a story within a story. I thought it was genius of Choi to bring the idea of the anima full circle by having Penny realize that Sam is her anima–the self-actualization was too real. 😱 giphy.gifI also really enjoyed the dual narration in this book. 💞 Being able to read from both Penny and Sam’s POV gave the book a well-rounded perspective that is sometimes missing when there is only one narrator.

The Characters 

Penny. This girl is freaking awesome. She’s such a relatable character…not to mention an absolute savage! 🔥😉 When she called out for Mallory for being racist, I was hyping her up and living for it. Asian stereotypes are often easily dismissed because they are gilded in a positive light. However, Penny notably points out the rude undertone and intentions to Mallory (who adamantly refuses to admit her wrongdoings) and still takes the high road in the end. 1464083661_daafbdca40fc1fbb3601e5f244372438 Penny is the responsible mom friend who carries a Mary Poppins size bag. 👜 This was honestly so relatable because I do the exact same thing. I keep an emergency bag of Tylenol, hand sanitizer, floss, sunscreen, etc. with me. 😂 Penny is mature over her years because she essentially had to be her own mom. 💖😢 Unfortunately, this fosters faultlines in her relationship with her own mom, preventing her from relying on Celeste on a topic as serious as her sexual assault.

Sam. Sam isn’t your typical YA heartthrob. 💘 He’s not the muscley bad boy with a soft heart for the love interest nor is he the princely rich boy who finally understands the realities of the world when he meets the main girl. He’s a baker/artist who has real financial struggles. He’s a person who lives paycheck to paycheck, surrounded by a world that is oblivious to the physical and mental implications of it. As readers, we see him grow from his past struggles with his family and alcohol and current struggles with his ex-girlfriend’s pregnancy and how it shapes him as a person. ✨ giphy (1).gifCeleste. She’s really trying hard to be Regina George’s mom if you know what I mean. 🙄She has kind-hearted intentions and wants to form a Lorelai & Rory Gilmore (but even more BFFs) relationship with her daughter, but I so frustrated with her because she was being such an irresponsible mother. What kind of mom gets hospitalized for eating pot brownies and having the boyfriend (who she never told her daughter about) call her to break the news?? 😤😡 I honestly admire Penny for her patience with her mom. I’m glad that they were able to begin the mending of their relationship at the end of the book, but I seriously had a like-annoyed relationship with Celeste.

Lorraine. This chick is delusional.

The Plot 

I really loved Penny and Sam’s relationship as “emergency contacts.” 🚑 Two individuals who develop a friendship through text in midst of their complicated lives. When they initially meet in person, they just click. They understand each others’ references and humor, so it makes sense that they would have such easy going conversations through text. 📱 Respond-1457559483.gifThe whole Lorraine-phantom-pregnancy thing was a shitshow. 💥 I really dislike her character, and I was extremely annoyed that Sam would still pine over someone who cheated on him and treated him in such a demeaning manner. At the same time, I could see why Sam was so invested in her pregnancy because he was seeing it as a potential new beginning–an escape from her current life/struggles.

Honestly, I didn’t expect Penny to remain friends with Jude and Mallory. 🙊 I thought they were too different, and she’d meet some other people along her college career (which is what usually happens anyway). Still, the scenes where they went to the beach and parties made me smile because it was nice to see Penny open up. 5QDxFwi.gif

The Romance 

“I want to be with someone I can talk to. I want to be with someone who automatically has a fat folder on me. Someone who feels lucky when I tell them the most unflattering, scary stuff.”

Watching Penny and Sam interact made my heart happy. 💖 I love how easy and fun their conversations are–both through text and phone calls and in person. He’s the person she texts whenever some random thought pops into her mind. She’s the person he texts to voice his inner monologue. know-can-count-each-other-ANYTHING-Including-hiding-bodiesI think it’s so freaking adorable how they both file information about each other in their heads. 😍 And when Sam finally stood up to Lorraine and realized that he was over her, I was screaming “YES BITCH FINALLY” to my book. 😂

In Conclusion

This was such an enjoyable slice-of-life type of book. 💝 Personally, I would love to see a sequel because I think there is a lot more that can be explored. I want to see how Penny’s friendship with Jude and Mallory has developed. Does Jude tease Sam and Penny about each other? Does Mallory become more self-aware of how she talks without thinking? I want to see how Celeste grows as a mother–will Penny ever feel comfortable enough sharing her sexual assault with her mom? And of course, I want to see more Penny and Sam interactions!! 😍 Will he bake her pastries while she talks to him about her WebMD self-diagnoses? Will they go on cute hipster dates to films and bookstores?? I need to know!

Want to Buy This Book?

If you purchase the paperback or hardback version from Book Depository, I make a small commission which helps keeps my blog running. 🛍️ They have free shipping worldwide, so talk about a win-win solution!


Have you read Emergency Contact? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments! 💕

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9 thoughts on “Book Review & Discussion: Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi

  1. AHH what a lovely review ❤ ❤ I am so, so happy you enjoyed this book so much -I loved it way too much, every aspect of it. I really enjoyed how the relationship slowly built through texts and everything and yes, Lorraine was REALLY annoying haha. I would love to see a sequel as well, I loved these characters SO much ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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