Expected Publication: June 23rd, 2015 by HarperTeen
Source: Won (ARC)
Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?
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 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.
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?
Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through 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.
Ooooooh, my heart. Emmy & Oliver was such a cute book that made me hurt in all the best ways. You may have noticed, but I don't read a whole lot of contemporary. No particular reason, but a lot of the stuff I see either seems really superficial or way too hardcore and depressing for me. And the stuff that interests me, I just never get around to because I get distracted. But I couldn't wait to get into this one, and when I did, I finished it all in one go. (Besides a half interlude for a shower, because sometimes we need to do that.)
Emmy and Oliver have been best friends and neighbors since birth. Until, of course, Oliver's father takes him - and doesn't come back. And suddenly Emmy is without a best friend, her parents turn into momzilla and dadzilla, and his mother is left in a constant state of frenzy and tears. Fast forward to Emmy's last year and high school, and Oliver reappears - only now, his mom has remarried, he was two siblings, and he's stuck a year behind in school. He's spent his life thinking his mom was the bad guy, but now he's being told that the man who raised him and took care of him was lying the entire time. It was heartbreaking.
Thankfully, not heartbreaking in the way that left me a snotty and sobbing mess. I'm personally not one of those people who loves to read books that make me feel miserable. But Emmy & Oliver tugged at my heart in all the right ways.
"After a while, though, after years passed and pictures changed and false tips fell through, it started to feel like the beacon wasn't for him anymore. It was for those of us left behind, something to cling to when you realized that scary things could happen, that villains didn't only exist in books, that Oliver might never come home. Until one day, he did."
Emmy has lived the past ten years abiding by her parent's rules while surfing in secret. She worries about college and her parents discovering her secret (and all the lying she's been doing) and even freaks out a little when she simply makes a silly face at Oliver when she finally sees him again. I found Emmy so relatable and such a lovely narrator. And the addition of her surfing was so well done. You could really feel how important it was to her. (And to be honest, when characters don't have some kind of hobby I don't know what to do with myself.)
And of course, I couldn't help but feel for Oliver, being thrown into this completely unfamiliar life that was supposed to be his all along. He felt like such a real character. Benway really knows how to write teenagers and get you invested in them.
Faye described Emmy & Oliver as quiet and peaceful, and I completely agree. Sure, it gets sad. But not that bone aching sad that usually makes me stop reading because I'm too depressed. Emmy & Oliver portrays these teenagers lives so accurately, and it's focused on friendships and relationships and how Oliver's kidnapping impacted so many other people. On how Oliver himself needs to heal, too. There's no silly little misunderstandings that leave them distraught for half the book while we all roll our eyes. I was rooting for both of these characters - both separately and together - the entire time.
The relationship and romance between Emmy and Oliver was adorable, plain and simple. I want to squeeze them in the tightest hug ever. They're both so supportive of each other, and Emmy really tries to understand the position Oliver is in (and of course, she struggles with it).
Overall: As usual, I feel like I failed to get my point across. Emmy & Oliver is cute and fluffy while still being filled with more grounded and relatable moments. This is a must-read for contemporary fans and even for those of us who are more fantasy prone. I think it has a very important overall message: it's okay to feel what you feel. Life is effed up, and that's okay. 4.5 stars.