I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Also by this author: Audrey, Wait!, The Extraordinary Secrets Of April May And June, Going Rogue: an Also Known As Novel
Published by HarperCollins on June 23rd 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Family, Marriage & Divorce, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Emotions & Feelings
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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.
I have never met a Robin Benway book that I didn’t like — and you guys, I have read every single one of her books, except for her bit in Dear Teen Me. Emmy & Oliver, Benway’s latest publisher by Harper, continues that tradition. Her books are for people that want YA with substance but at the same time with a lighter touch. Her books are for people who want nice guys to finish first. Her books are for people who like it when a main character has a family that plays a significant part. Her books are for people who like to laugh while they are reading. So, really, Benway’s books are for all YA fans and Emmy & Oliver is among that echelon of excellence.
When Emmy was in the second grade her best friend Oliver, who shares her birthday, left from school in his dad’s convertible. Emmy did not realize that she would not see Oliver again for ten years, until they are seventeen. You see, Oliver was kidnapped by his father that day. Alas, this has had far reaching effects. News vehicles roamed their neighborhood, I forgot to mention that Emmy and Oliver lived next door to each other. Their parents are BFFs, or at least their moms. So, when Emmy discovers that Oliver is back she cannot help but think back to this note that she’s been hanging on to since second grade, when Oliver said that he liked her LIKE THAT. Now, it is up to Emmy and Oliver to forge a renewed friendship. And of course, a potential romance!
Emmy! OMG! She likes surfing you guys. And her parents are super overprotective to the point that she lies about certain things because they are so overprotective. And so, Emmy goes surfing the low. She is very good at it, good enough to be on the surf team. In fact, Emmy secretly applies to a college with a good surf team because that’s her passion and also because she wants to get away from her household where the rules can feel overbearing. You guys! I loved Emmy. I loved her two best friends Caro and Drew who are comedic foils but also realized people with issues and problems and are UNIQUE and diverse and just awesome. They play big roles and trust, you’ll love them like I do.
When I began Emmy & Oliver I was under the impression that there would be first person point of view chapters from Oliver. There were not. Instead it’s all Emmy with some flashback italics chapters too. Benway does spend a good amount of pages developing Oliver’s character which makes sense given that he is one of the title characters. Oliver is of course, a nice guy. He struggles with the whole kidnapping thing because he doesn’t see it as being kidnapped. He was raised to believe that his mom abandoned him, not that he was kidnapped. He doesn’t really see his dad as a bad guy or a villain. I liked the complexity we got with Oliver. Usually it seems like love interests are kind of disposable, but with Oliver, he’s like a fully realized person.
Speaking of Oliver and his family troubles, I think it would be good to mention that Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway does have one of Benway’s trademarked involved, active families. Emmy is an only child and her parents, her mom in particular are overprotective. However, that does not mean they are bad, horrible oppressive parents and that Emmy does not get along with them. No way, her parents are involved in her life and they genuinely care about her. Of course they were scared about Oliver’s disappearance. That trauma doesn’t just go away overnight. As for Oliver’s parents, we do get to meet his kidnapper, his dad, and there is as always, complexity there. We also get a lot of his mom, Maureen, and her new husband and their twin daughters. The dynamic between Oliver and his mother is fascinating.
There’s a few more bonus themes in this book – it is set in high school BUT college plays a role in that the characters are deciding where they want to go to college and studying and waiting on acceptance letters. There’s parties and underage behavior that does not lead to tragedy – much like real life. There are mean kids, also like in real life. There’s homework. There’s funny moments. This book, Emmy & Oliver is fully Benway caliber and if you’ve read her books before, you know exactly what I mean. Absolutely zero disappointments here.