Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway | Book Review

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.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I haven’t had the chance to read any of Robin Benway’s books but Emmy and Oliver is on my to-read list. This book caught my eye with the whole best friends torn apart and come together storyline. So glad you enjoyed it!
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  2. I really loved Emmy & Oliver! They’re such great characters, first of all. And Benway writes their relationship and story in a way that’s charming and heartfelt and all sorts of wonderful! So happy that you enjoyed this one as well.
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  3. I’m so glad that you loved Emmy & Oliver. I was just talking this book up to my coworker and she checked it out that day! I still haven’t read Audrey,Wait, but I’ve loved all the other full length Benway books.

    I also thought that there were be chapters told from Oliver’s POV, and I was a little sad that there wasn’t. I just loved Oliver so much. But Emmy is totally amazing, too.
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