Emergency Contact was a spur of the moment purchase, it sounded interesting, but I hadn’t committed to it and then suddenly I made the decision to preorder it and that was that.
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.
Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.
When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.
Warning, I usually avoid spoilers as much as possible in my reviews but this one may include some. I will still try to keep them to a minimum.
I am not the biggest fan of contemporary books, and if I do read them I tend to prefer more “magical realism” or something like that, which this does not have. However, the idea of having an “emergency contact” for panic attacks was a lovely thing (I think it is one of the things that made me preorder this book, not sure but it definitely would’ve since I have had panic attacks).
And both Sam and Penny aren’t perfect, are struggling and are learning to be “adults”, so it was refreshing to read from them, and hey look at that, the parents aren’t conveniently out of the way as such (yes it happens while Penny is in college/university but her mum is definitely a big part in this story).
I was shook when Penny’s “secret” was revealed, not because it was a bad secret but rather because it touched me as I had gone through something similar and I could understand her too well.
All in all, the book left me feeling happy to be alive, wanting to fall in love slowly and just needing an emergency contact.
Reading Emergency Contact, I literally said to my friends they had to read it because it was so good! Another good book that is contemporary and gave me similar vibes is When My Heart Joins The Thousand, so I recommend reading it if this sounds interesting.