Monday, June 29, 2015

Lost and Found: Emmy & Oliver

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Harper Teen, 2015

*ARC provided by the author - Thank You! This in no way impacted my opinions of this book.*

Emmy and Oliver weren't just next door neighbors when they were kids, they were best friends. But everything changed when they were seven years old and Oliver's father kidnapped him. Overnight their sleepy little town went on high alert, and no one more so than Emmy's parents. But Emmy never forgot her friend - she couldn't even if she wanted to. While the search parties eventually dwindled, their worry didn't. Ten years later, the incredibly early curfews and expectation that she'll attend community college so she'll still live at home have pushed Emmy into secret applications and surfing behind their backs. But then everything changes again when Oliver is found, comes home, and doesn't really remember the girl next door at all, but she's exactly who he needs.

While I've only read one other of Benway's books (her debut, Audrey, Wait!), I completely loved it and was jumping at the chance to get to read this. From the summary alone, I could tell it would be something I'd enjoy: guy and girl friendships, childhood friends, growing pains, finding your own voice - and it was all here. Emmy is a smart girl but she's not perfect, and neither are her life-long friends Caro and Drew. It was refreshing to see what I felt like was a realistic look at teens - in my experience, many of them really are good kids, but that doesn't mean they're perfect. The Triangle (as they call themselves) felt fully formed. Two of my favorite scenes were when Emmy declares "what's wrong with being like other girls?" and when the trio is genuinely trying to understand a directive from their parents but can't follow the muddled grown-up logic at all.

And of course, there's Oliver, another good kid without whom this story wouldn't happen. Benway does a good job letting the audience get to know this boy well before he actually comes back into the picture, and then redefining him again since readers, like Emmy, haven't known the person he's become in the past ten years. While it's understandable that he plays his cards close to his chest, I would have liked to have known a bit more what was going on in his head a la Heather Demetrios' Josh in I'll Meet You There. At times, the story felt a bit rushed or that there was the potential to go a little deeper, however, the story still worked really well. I sympathized with this character and all he's been through, constantly having to be the one to pay the price for something he never asked for.

All in all, this was a solid contemporary story taking on an issue that happens far too often but is rarely discussed, especially in young adult literature. I can especially see this book being a big hit in the hands of Sarah Dessen fans or any reader who likes books that take on a bad situation but can also find the silver lining.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Robin Benway's Website
Robin Benway on Twitter

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