Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi is a book that is centered around two main characters, Penny and Sam, who, through unusual circumstances, are thrown together in Austin, TX. Penny is starting her first year of college at the University of Texas while running away from everything she left at home. Sam is taking a break from college and feels stuck in a poor situation of no real home, his job, and being stuck on his ex-girlfriend. Sam’s life spins even more out of control by having a panic attack right on the street due to being told by his ex-girlfriend that she is pregnant. In the midst of his panic attack, Penny happens to be nearby and helps him out of the situation by talking him down and taking care of him. They keep up communication via text and start to form a special bond that feels like second nature to them both, a bond that will help them through many trials as they both become each other’s emergency contact. Is there more to their relationship than being just friends? Will a romance come out of it despite Sam’s pregnant ex-girlfriend?
I love a good, sappy love story, and especially one that comes out of extremely unusual circumstances. Add on top of that an interesting meet cute, and I am easily hooked. Once I got started on this book it was a quick read due to my curiosity of wanting to see how the two main characters, Penny and Sam, would develop in their relationship. The way their relationship truly came out of a necessary friendship was refreshing and also make me feel so giddy that I found myself smiling at my book as I read.
I enjoyed how the author slowly led me into the characters but kept me interested by giving more history as they learned about each other. One thing I found confusing was Penny and Sam’s side stories; Penny writing an ongoing story for her writing class, and Sam was getting back into doing documentaries by filming a young boy that likes to skateboard. The story that Penny is writing was difficult to keep up with as a reader. Her story would pop up at random times, and her characters were confusing to me as a reader; I felt like there was symbolism in the story she was writing and her life, but I couldn’t quite make those connections.
Sam’s side story popped out of nowhere and all of a sudden, he was urgent to get back into making documentaries. He decides to make his subject a young boy that likes to skateboard, and for awhile the story progressed normally. Then, after a few chapters, the storyline just died out and we didn’t hear about Sam’s documentary or the boy again. However, these two shortcomings did not keep me from enjoying the book as a whole and I look forward to recommending this to fellow readers.