Book Reviews

Book Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Title: Emergency Contact Book Cover
Title: Emergency Contact Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance Publisher: Simon Schuster Audio Format: Audiobook Source: Scribd

For Penny Lee, high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she’d somehow landed a boyfriend, they never managed to know much about each other. Now Penny is heading 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, you know, see each other.


TW: Abuse, Racism, Mommy Issues, Daddy Issues (I’m sorry it’s been a month since I listened to it, so if there are triggers I missed, I’m sorry.)

Emergency Contact is the story of Penny and Sam. Neither of them is a particularly likable character. They are seriously messed up. But if I have to choose one over the other, I’ll take Sam, thanks.

For one, both have issues with their mothers, but for different reasons. To my idea, Sam has a legitimate reason to have issues with his mother, considering what she did to him. Penny, on the other hand, has issues with her mother for being herself. Penny seems to think that her mom is embarrassing and a pain in Penny’s butt on purpose. To my idea, that’s ludicrous and Penny is just being a brat.

When Penny moves to college and meets Sam via her dorm roommate, they become friends and text each other. Which is fine. Except they don’t tell anyone. They literally keep this a secret, when at first, there is literally no reason to. They’re just friends who talk to each other.

By the way, it takes way too long for them to figure out they have feelings for each other. Seriously. I thought they’d never figure it out. I had it figured out way before they did.

I don’t care for Mary H. K. Choi’s writing style – at least not in this book. I don’t mind books with multiple points of view, but this one was just irritating. At times it didn’t even seem like Sam and Penny were in the same story the way the chapters jumped around between Penny and Sam.

I gave it one star because I just did not like the book at all. I might give Permanent Record a try, but if it’s anything like Emergency Contact, I’m going to chalk it up to Mary H. K. Choi not being the author for me.