Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Emmy and Oliver

Emmy and Oliver
By Robin Benway
Published: June 23, 2015

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?
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 had 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.
Readers who love Sarah Dessen will devour 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 review:

Both Emmy and Oliver's lives were changed by his dad's decision to kidnap him. Emmy's parents have been extremely controlling of her since that day which is why she keeps it a secret that she has learned how to surf and that she has applied to go to college hours away instead of the local community college her parents want her to attend first. Oliver believed for years that his mom abandoned him and didn't want him anymore. He didn't realize that he was kidnapped until he got curious one day and Googled her name and found the truth. Since returning home he has been torn between missing his dad and hating him for what he did. His mom has remarried and has two young twin daughters and Oliver struggles to fit into this new family where his mom expects him to be the same as the seven year old boy she last knew.

At first it is difficult for Emmy and her friends to reconnect with Oliver and it doesn't help that Emmy's parents push her at him (they kind of treat her like a little kid who needs to be told to play nicely). What changes things is her ability to treat him like a normal person. She soon becomes a lifeline for Oliver and she is able to share her own secrets with him. She teaches him how to surf and he tells her what life was like for him in New York with his dad. Eventually they fall for each other although her parents don't quite approve and Emmy's time with Oliver is finite since she will be going to college the next year. 

I enjoyed the growing friendship between Oliver and Emmy and how they were able to be there for each other. Emmy is fortunate to have two caring best friends in Caroline and Drew (also childhood friends of Oliver) though Emmy's secrets and renewed friendship with Oliver put some strain on their relationships. Drew and Caro have troubles of their own (especially Drew) but the four friends are there for each other when it counts.

While the friendship aspect of the novel was strong I was a little disappointed in the parents. Although it is understandable that they were all traumatized by the kidnapping, I thought that Emmy's parents in particular were difficult to like. They were so controlling and unreasonable even from an adult's perspective. Oliver's mom is struggling as well with her expectations for Oliver, her hatred of Oliver's dad and her fear. Things get better in both parental relationships by the end but I thought the parents exhibited poor behavior. I do think teens will be able to relate to the characters' troubles with their parents. It is a common trope in teen fiction to see parents having very different ideas of what their teens should do with their lives. I believe this mirrors real life however. Parents (usually) want what is best for their kids but their dreams don't always coincide with their kids' dreams and that is one of the struggles teens face as they become adults.

All in all I thought this was an excellent novel. I thought it did a fantastic job of exploring what it means to redefine friendship and family relationships after a traumatic event.The kidnapping may not be a normal part of teen life but the issues that the teens face in regards to their future and growing up and being true to themselves are all things that real teens deal with. The author portrayed realistic and flawed teens and even realistic and flawed parents. I would recommend this book to readers who like realistic contemporary fiction and authors like Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson, Jessi Kirby and Sarah Ockler.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one overall. I was impressed with Benway's writing style and want to check out Audrey, Wait now. Have you read it?

  2. Sounds like a good book! I'm not a fan of Sarah Dessen, but may have to check this out.

  3. This one looks so good. I am excited to read this one!

  4. Well, considering you'd recommend this to Dessen, Matson, Kirby and Ockler readers (adore them), I'd say this is a must-read for me! Excellent review, this sounds like an interesting story.


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