Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway - Review

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.

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I didn't know quite what I was getting into with Emmy and Oliver - the aspect of kidnapping caused me to expect some kind of thriller or mystery aspect to the story that I wasn't so sure about. However, Emmy and Oliver was such an incredibly pleasant surprise.

Emmy and Oliver is beautifully written, exploring the complexities of familial relationships and in particular, the love between a parent and their child. Robin played with the extremes of what a person will do for love, from sacrificing the happiness of others to preserve their own to giving someone pieces of themselves in order to help them heal. The overprotectiveness and misunderstandings that arise between all the young characters and their parents are real and authentic and gives a lot of credit to the maturity of young people who have been touched by trauma or hard experiences (like being gay in a small town). I loved that Robin didn't shy away from so many subjects and that the narration and the characters, even the young ones, were ready to take the helm and approach them fearlessly.

The other relationship, of course is between our title characters. The romance between Emmy and Oliver is perfect, in my opinion, because it is adorable but more than that, and more often, it is rough and heartbreaking and awkward and hilarious. They are finding out so much about themselves while also trying to rediscover one another and they decide to give so much of themselves to each other, despite not knowing what those pieces even include. All of the feelings in this novel (and there are a lot of them) feel so authentic and I praise Robin for creating all the feels without making it feel overwrought or overdramatic.

Along with all the above, this book holds a special place in my heart because it explores the idea of having to experience and overcome change. Not everyone is kidnapped and then brought home after ten years, but the way that Emmy and Oliver have to rediscover their friendship and themselves after so many years is something that is, at least for me, very relatable. Whether it's four years of college or years after moving, coming back to a place that used to be home to people that used to be part of your life is a humbling experience, both for the person who left and those left behind. Robin weaves through these moments with such grace and humor and I loved watching not just Emmy and Oliver, but their friends and family, navigate through it all to find comfort and happiness.

Stunning writing, authentic love, and teens who fearlessly analyze the changes in themselves and those around them with a beautifully complicated critical lens, Emmy and Oliver is a story about finding love - not with your childhood crush, but with the person he has become, with your parents whose love has become stifling, and with yourself, whose change, I think, is sometimes the hardest to see.

Find out more about Robin and her other works here: http://www.robinbenway.com/index.php

I'm the author of "Audrey, Wait!", "The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June", and the AKA series. My latest book "Emmy & Oliver" will be released on June 23, 2015. I live in Los Angeles with my extremely stubborn shih tzu, Hudson. I like cooking, puppies, and coffee, but not in that order. We should be friends.

Happy Reading! 


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