Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi is a book that takes its readers by surprise with its realism. It’s a true coming-of-age story that demonstrates the trials and tribulations of finding where you belong in the world through the eyes of Penny, a college freshman, and Sam, a broke barista with some serious girl trouble.
Choi creates characters that act like human beings – they’re calloused from past traumas, but those experiences shape who Penny and Sam are, providing some common ground. They’ve lived a life of hardship, and while it’s on completely different ends of the spectrum, it allows them to bond in a genuine way. Another thing Choi gets right is her fluency in ‘modern day teenager,’ which adds to the books credibility.
One of the most refreshingly distinctive aspect of the novel is Choi’s attention to the smallest of details; for example, how Penny becomes instantly tired when dealing with confrontation. It’s the little things that keep these characters as engaging as they are, which Choi proves to be a master of, throughout the narrative.
Of course, with it’s perfections, there comes those aspects which are flawed. The book ends abruptly, and it’s almost whiplash-inducing. It felt as if an epilogue was needed to do these characters the justice they deserved after everything. It was satisfying, but it absolutely could have been better. Don’t allow this to be a deterrent, though, since the book is a masterpiece and deserves every bit of praise it has received thus far.
All in all, Choi is an author to keep an eye on. She keeps it real with characters that genuinely reflect the world as it is today; diverse characters going through relatable situations and dealing with those issues in a human way rather than a robotic one. Emergency Contact flows smoothly and is a stand out contemporary – so much so that it should be considered a Must Read. So add it to your TBR – you won’t regret a second of this book.