Published by Harper Teen on 23 June 2015
Genres: Abduction, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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Also by this author: Also Known As, Going Rogue
Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, California // San Diego, California
First Line(s): Oliver disappeared after school on a Friday afternoon, way back when we were in the second grade, and small things seemed really important and important things seemed too small.
This has been the year of contemporary reads for me and when I first received a copy of EMMY & OLIVER by Robin Benway I was intrigued by its premise and knew it was a book I wanted to read. But then life got in the way and it dropped off my radar until around the time it was released and several of my blogger friends began to talk about it. This prompted me to dig out my copy and I settled down to read it. EMMY & OLIVER is a quick read and for the most part I was totally engrossed in its story. The story is set in the now when one of the title characters Oliver, is returning home after many years of being away having been kidnapped by his dad. He returns to family and friends who have moved on but have also stood still while he’s just moved on. Everyone in the story has been affected by Oliver’s kidnapping, especially Emmy whose parents became even more over protective than they may have normally done. She has a super early curfew and she’s not allowed to do anything dangerous and so has to sneak off to do the things she loves, like surf.
While Emmy’s parents are super involved in her life they are also a bit clueless as I don’t see how they’ve managed to miss the fact that she’s been surfing for years. Surfboards aren’t an easy thing to hide after all and sand is one of the most clingy trackable things ever. I know this, I grew up on the beach and my parents always knew when we’d come home from a swim. So there were times when things seemed a bit hard to swallow. But nothing bugged me more in this book than the interludes. These short little snippets of different ages in Emmy’s life as she reflects on things. They never failed to pull me out of the story and the very last one just had me sighing so hard in frustration which left a slight sour taste in my mouth on the final pages instead of sighing happily in heart-achy feels. EMMY & OLIVER was also an odd mix of tense where one moment it was in the present and then another it seemed like the future looking back and it just threw me.
While I didn’t always like how the story was told I did like Emmy & Oliver’s story. I loved how they were childhood friends and how even when apart they still kept the memory of the other alive. Although Oliver was definately more present in Emmy’s world than Emmy was in his. But that is understandable when he was raised on the run and she was raised in the shadow of his absence. I enjoyed her friendships and I loved watching as Emmy & Oliver reconnected with one another. This is what I’d call a slow burn story and while I didn’t always think that timelines and plot points were done in a cohesiver and logical way I did like the story of Emmy and Oliver. They fit together and gave me the warm and happy feels that I love in a book. I only wish we got to spend more time with them as a couple as the whole ending felt a bit rushed.
EMMY & OLIVER is mostly a light hearted contemporary novel with these pockets of intensity. Oliver is such a fish out of water for much of the book trying to find his place in a life that still thinks of him as being seven years old. Everyone in this story had to relearn each other in a crash course and it wasn’t always an easy journey. Oliver is grappling with fact that his mother never abandoned him and also with the new family she’s created during his time away. EMMY & OLIVER is often an engrossing read and despite my issues I did find it hard to put it down. This was I story I thought about when I wasn’t reading it. Robin Benway is a strong writer with distinctive plots. I like her story lines and I am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.