Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

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I received this book for free from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin BenwayEmmy & Oliver by Ribin Benway
Published by HarperTeen on June 23, 2015
Source: HarperTeen
Buy on 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?

If I could describe this book in one word, it would be quiet.

Yes, Emmy & Oliver is something that I would call a “quiet contemporary”. I’m not even sure where that came from, or if it’s a thing, or something I made up on a whim, but I know deep inside that this is the best word for it. I try to think of another description, but there is nothing that fits as this. Emmy & Oliver is meaningful, thoughtful, and like I said, quiet.

How is it so, you ask? I’ve read a number of contemporaries over the years, many of them involving issues and concepts teenagers face during their youth, experiences that mirror our own and lessons that are valuable to us, too. But while that is so, there are times when it feels like the situation those characters are in are something that I don’t really see myself getting into; as if it feels like there is still a sense of detachment somehow.

But Emmy & Oliver is different, in a sense, and I don’t even know how to say why. There is something so down-to-earth with the way it is written. There is no unnecessary or explosive or superficial drama among the characters. There is a “peaceful” atmosphere going on despite the big elephant of sadness in the room. In this book, characters go to school, go back home, do what teenagers do, eat what teenagers eat, fret over college applications – things that are 100% real to us – and it doesn’t feel tedious at all. There is even an endearing quality to it, a realness that you know is genuine. It feels eerily human-like in a way that this you see this happening to yourself, or to your next-door neighbor, or to your friend down the street. 

I guess, in short, it is not pretentious at all. There are no characters who spout deep and complex sentences in an attempt  to swoon the MC or the reader. It’s genuine to the very bone, especially the dialogue. I even think the dialogue is the best part of this story, because the way they talk to each other and the things they say and the things they do are so, so, so real. This is why I say it is quiet, because most of the time, our lives are quiet, too (unless you’re a big hot shot in loud field like Hollywood, I guess!), and it really captured that ambiance and atmosphere in the setting, in the writing, in the characters, and in the dialogue.

TL;DR: it’s one of the most natural contemporaries I’ve ever read. Read it to believe it, folks.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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18 Responses to “Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway”

  1. Tina

    I love Robin Benway and didn’t even realize she had a new book out so thanks so much for this review. I know exactly what you mean by quiet and instantly felt how you were describing it. Quiet books are always my favorite. Can’t wait to check this book out!

  2. Erin @ The Hardcover Lover

    I felt the exact same way when I read it because it was simplistically beautiful. It’s definitely one of the best contemporaries that I’ve read in a while, and I would definitely read it again.

    Great review, Faye! 🙂

  3. Ella

    I think I get what you mean by saying it is “quiet”. Like how people say a book is relatable because of this and that and mostly those reasons pertain to a character But I think what you meant was the whole book feeling simple yet true. I love those kinds. Those are the kind that you breeze thru and yet hard to let go once your done. I can’t wait for June Faye! Great review! 🙂

  4. Hannah

    Wonderful review! I have an eARC and am planning to get to it soonish next month. Sometimes it’s the quiet books that are all the more impactful. <3

  5. Valerie

    Yayayay I’m glad you loved it Faye because I also have it to read. And I don’t even know what you mean by quiet contemporary because I’ve read so many dramatic ones. Glad to see that this one is different 🙂

  6. Danielle

    This sounds like the perfect read for me! Will definitely be adding to my tbr. Lovely review Faye! I didn’t realise you were over here! 🙂

  7. Katherine

    I’m really excited to pick up this book! I haven’t heard too much about it, but it sounds like I would like a quiet book like this one. I hate unnecessary drama in books.

  8. Kayla @ The Thousand Lives

    Okay, you sold me when you said “quiet contemporary.” I love books like that, and actually prefer them! Definitely adding this one to my TBR, even if the mystery aspect kind of concerns me. I’ve never done well with those plot-lines!

  9. Benish

    Ohhh, an actual genuine contemporary? Now that’s rare nowadays. I have a copy of this somewhere in my kindle, thank you for pushing me towards it now! Love the review x

  10. Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger

    Emmy & Oliver sounds similar to a book I have sitting on my shelf by Trish Doller. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m itching to. Hope it comes close to how you feel about Emmy & Oliver. Regardless, I’ll be adding this one to my TBR shelf as well 🙂 Wonderful review, Faye