Emmy & Oliver
by Robin Benway
Read: May 3 - 5, 2015
Published: June 23, 2015 by HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss (Thank you, Harper!)
Category: YA, contemporary, missing persons
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound
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.
Emmy and Oliver live next door to each other and have been best friends since birth, until one Friday in second grade when Oliver's father takes him anyway, and he isn't seen again. That is until ten years later, when Oliver is found and he comes back into Emmy's life. This is the story of what happens when he returns.
What I appreciate the most about this book is through these pages we are able to experience the complicated mass of feelings Oliver's disappearance and return has on Emmy and Oliver as well as their families and friends. Although everyone is thrilled when Oliver returns, it - not surprisingly - doesn't play out like anyone expected, and these characters must manage their expectations and get to know each other again. I hurt for them and felt their confusion, and the unfairness of the whole situation. But though there are some intense emotions at play, through Emmy's open and honest voice, I didn't feel completely dragged down amidst it all.
I loved watching Emmy and Oliver's friendship develop - in a large part due to Emmy's efforts to embrace Oliver back into her life. Slowly we also see Emmy and Oliver's relationship transform into more than a friendship, and it feels natural, but also not at all inevitable, because they are different than when they were children and navigating through a very sticky situation. I enjoyed seeing their support of each other, and the way they work hard to communicate and understand the other as they both try to unpack how the past ten years has affected them. This is a personal thing, but I'm always thrilled when a book doesn't have the traditional "Big Break" in a romance plot, and this one avoids that trope, while also maintaining a strong emotional element throughout, and not centering the drama solely on them.
As I said, this book isn't just about Emmy and Oliver, and I loved Emmy's friends Caro and Drew, who have their own lives and issues, and must adjust to Oliver's return as well. We also get some great moments of them hanging out and having fun. Emmy's parents - as well as Oliver's mom and her family - are also a big part of this story, and I'm glad that author Robin Benway took the time to give us their perspectives as well. It makes the story much more complex - also the older I get, the more I understand the parents' perspectives. I was especially moved by the moments when Emmy and her mom and dad were able to be honest with each other, even though it hurt to do that.
One final note on the text, this book has some big timing/editing issues, that I'm really hoping will be fixed in the finale. A few scenes seemed like they'd been moved to later in the text without adjusting the timing in the language, so it appeared to jump back in time strangely. Also, I'm still not sure how Oliver had a school trip to a police station, when he was being home schooled. Maybe a co-op program?
Emmy & Oliver tackles a very difficult situation while managing to balance the heavy and hopeful emotions, and never becoming too light or too depressing. This book left me thinking about how there are multiple sides to every situation and the ripples can have a far reaching effect, but listening and understanding can go a long way towards healing.
Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone