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.
Rating: 5 stars
I will be the first to admit that I slept on this book when it first came out. I find the cover to be absolutely freaking beautiful and while that originally pulled me in whenever I saw fellow reviewers reading it, I read the synopsis and lost interest. I’m pretty sure this is because books made up entirely of text messages as the format freak me out, and I thought that this was going to be one of those. But I finally broke down and borrowed this when I saw it available on overdrive, and I’m actually happy to say that I was wrong about not only one, but two things! 1) This book is not entirely in texting format (thank god), although it does have a considerable amount, and 2) This book did not deserve to be slept on, at all!
Right off the bat, this was giving me Fangirl vibes. This made me nervous at first, because while I didn’t totally hate Fangirl, I didn’t really enjoy it very much either. I was a little nervous that this was going to be another attempt at a far too long, overly quirky narrative that could’ve easily ended at 200 pages and been a better read. But I actually loved Emergency Contact!
It’s not an instalove, cutesy/quirky romance story so for that, I am always grateful. Another thing I found myself being quite appreciative about was that Choi didn’t try too hard to make the characters so odd just to be likable. Both Penny and Sam had some weird traits (I kind of adore Penny’s need to have all emergency supplies with her at all times and also really need someone like this in my life because, hello, I am always forgetting towels when swimming and this girl has TWO in her “emergency kit”), but it never felt like too much. I did find that I enjoyed Penny’s narrative better, but I think that was just because I felt like I related to her more.
Choi also put friendships and relationships, both past and present, into this story so that readers aren’t constantly trapped in the digital romance between Penny and Sam. There’s actually some really hardcore sh*t going on in this book (TRIGGER WARNING: alcohol abuse; sexual assault and rape) and Choi approached the subjects with as much tact as possible in these situations.
Overall, I honestly don’t even have anything bad to say about this book. I seriously love it and want to buy myself a copy just to have that cover among my collection. I’m a very happy camper after this one.