Robin Benway’s Emmy and Oliver -YA contemporary for fans of Sarah Dessen

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Robin Benway’s Emmy and Oliver -YA contemporary for fans of Sarah Dessen

One of the biggest struggles for any teen is finding their place in the world, and Emmy & Oliver focuses on that conflict.  There are some complications thrown in that make these struggles more interesting than average, but, ultimately, it really is about making choices.  I sort of stumbled onto this book in the kindle sale, and I was quite pleased with my $1.99 purchase.  This isn’t your average $2 ebook, and it is well written and compelling enough that it is going on my classroom library wish list.

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Goodreads Summary

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.
She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

My Thoughts

The smart thing about this book was the decision to choose a narrator with one foot in the experience, and one foot out.  Emmy is close to the situation, but she is distant enough to add something new to the genre of books where kidnapped teens find their way back home.  If Oliver had narrated the story, this would have only been about the problems associated with the kidnapping, but Emmy allows the story to expand to include themes of friendship, trust, truth, and making your own decisions.  I like Emmy’s voice, which is smart and witty but also uncertain.  She is someone that an average reader can relate to easily, and I think she is a character that most people will enjoy.  The story is well paced to develop both the plot and the relationships evenly, and while it wasn’t action-packed, it was a fast and yet thoughtful story.  I did think  there was a bit of cheese in the scenes where the story flashed back to life before Oliver disappeared, particularly the final flashback, but those sections are short and easy to ignore.

Overall, I think most of the target audience will appreciate how each character represents some battle with finding their place in the world, and this book offers diverse perspectives of that same issue without being redundant.  I enjoyed it, and I think it will appeal to both YA’s and adult readers of YA because of the complexity of the characters’ emotions, which ring true.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 9+.

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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