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

“It wasn’t a romance; it was too perfect for that. With texts there were only the words and none of the awkwardness. They could get to know each other completely and get comfortable before they had to do anything unnecessarily overwhelming like look at each other’s eyeballs with their eyeballs.”

Mary H.K. Choi’s debut “Emergency Contact” modernizes the idea of getting to know and falling in love with someone digitally. It illustrates that many of the modern day young adults use text messages as a safe space to express thoughts and feelings they wouldn’t necessarily say vocally.

Penny Lee heads to college in Austin, Texas to learn how to become a writer. While she is only about an hour and a half from her hometown, she feels like she is an eternity away — and it makes her happy. Penny is finally away from her mom — whom according to Penny was never really a real mother to her — and free to be her own person without having to worry about her mom.

There she meets Sam Becker, a boy who is surviving through a “god-awful” chapter of his life. However, Penny and Sam become friends due to a series of unbearable awkwardness and surviving a panic attack. Soon after, the two swap numbers and stay in touch via texts — getting to know each and using one another as emotional support that they were unaware they needed.

Ms. Choi’s attention to detail is the real magic of the story. The characters’ actions and quirks are what truly fleshes them out. Penny is very organized and is over prepared — she carries a toiletries bag with medicine, band-aids, tampons, a stain remover stick, and so much more. It showed how she had to grow up before her time because her mom wasn’t the type of mom who was prepared or grown up enough to care for a child.

Emergency Contact is a realistic modern-day story that had emotional depth and ends on a hopeful note — that even in our lowest of lows there is a chance to climb and you don’t have to do it by yourself.

This coming of age story is for those who are passed their “teen” years and are in the struggle of truly finding themselves while at a university. Because let us be honest, you don’t truly start finding yourself until you hit your twenty-somethings and even then it is just the beginning of a long road of discovery.

Personal Rating: 5/5

GoodReads Average Rating: 3.96/5

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