Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Title: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 23, 2015 by Harper Teen
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Find it here: GoodReads | Amazon

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

Emmy & Oliver charmed me from the very start. There are so many things I loved about this book that I'm afraid I'm going to gush. I'm going to resort to a list in hopes of reining myself in.

1. I loved Emmy's voice immediately. This girl rang completely true to me and I loved her so much. Her humor, her loyalty, her sarcasm, her relationship with her parents, her desire to have something for herself even if it meant hiding it from her parents. I just *got* Emmy and clicked with her right away.

For the first time in ten years, I could see Oliver right in front of me, but he was still much too far away.

2. The narrative. Benway writes in a way that flows so easily, isn't weighed down by flowery prose, but still packs an emotional punch. She portrays teenagers in a completely realistic way. These aren't cookie cutter teen caricatures. They felt totally genuine from the dialogue, to their close-knit friendships, to the issues they were facing. Also, despite the subject matter, Benway never resorted to over dramatization. Instead, she crafted a story that was intense but subtle, and completely engrossing.

"You're always gonna know it's me. And I'm always gonna know it's you. You're Oliver. Who else would you be?"

3. Oliver. I don't think I've ever wanted to just hug a fictional character so much. Oliver's experience left him with so many conflicting emotions. So many people were impacted by his kidnapping but at the center of it all was Oliver. Watching as he dealt with guilt and anger and confusion, trying to adjust to his new reality and figure out where he belonged... oh, it broke my heart. I was moved to tears and just wanted to hug this kid and tell him it would be alright.

I just hugged him and didn't say anything. There wasn't anything to say. Sometimes there just aren't enough words to fill the cracks in your heart.

4. The humor. So many laugh out loud lines. Emmy's snappy banter with her parents was priceless.

"We need intense bonding time!" my dad said. "Pizza night on Friday!"

"I have a work thing," my mom said.

"I have a 'don't want to hang out with my parents' thing," I added.

5. The friendships. Emmy's close friendships with Caro and Drew were potrayed in such a way that I found myself jealous. I want friends like these!

6. Emmy and Oliver. I loved these two. Adored them. Separately these were well drawn characters that I enjoyed. Together they were magical. Their connection, their ease with one another, their history - I was sold. Emmy sometimes worried that she didn't know the right thing to say to Oliver, but she always said just the right thing. He opened up to her when he couldn't talk to others and in turn she was honest with him and provided a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. I couldn't love them more. ♥

It felt odd to be missing him even though I was looking right at him, when I had spent the past ten years missing him and never knowing where he was. I guess the more you start to love someone, the more you ache when they're gone, and maybe it's that middle ground that hurts the most, when you see them and still not feel like you're near enough.

7. The *only* thing that made this a 4.5 rather than 5 star rating is that I felt it would have benefitted from a dual narrative. Getting Oliver's POV would have added so much. Several times I found myself wishing I was in his head, getting the full impact of his feelings/emotions.

In short, Emmy & Oliver was an absolute delight. Do yourself a favor and read this book.

What's your favorite book so far this month?

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