For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.
Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattre
ss on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.
When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.
“Loving someone was traumatizing. You never knew what would happen to them out there in the world. Everything precious was also vulnerable.”
This book was super duper adorable. A++ for adorableness. Tbh, I finished it and I was all like squeeeeeeeee and then I went on goodreads and I was like ??? all the bad reviews what u doing here??? Fortunately, I finished this book a bit of a while ago so my emotions are less squeeeeee and I can probably write a coherent review now haha.
Emergency Contact is called a young adult book, but I think it leans more towards new adult. The characters are all college age (18-23ish), and it deals with more mature content such as alcoholism, pregnancy, and rape. As an older teen, I definitely still enjoyed it, just maybe not for, like, 12 year olds haha.
It tells the story of Penny and Sam as Penny starts her freshman year of college and their lives get mixed together. At first I was expecting it to be all from Penny’s point of view, but it’s actually from both Penny and Sam, which I really enjoyed!
Penny is Korean, and that was such a pleasant surprise, as the blurb doesn’t make it immediately obvious. It was fun to read about the little nuances of Asian people that I n e v e r get to see in fiction, like getting “Asian glow” after drinking and having people expect you to be a total geeky studious nerd. She did mention at one time how whenever she writes, she automatically imagines her main character as white, and how isn’t that messed up that she never imagines they look like her and I was like OMG. New revelation because of course that’s the same with me, and a disproportionate amount of the protagonists I’ve written are blonde, which I’m far from.
I noticed that some other reviewers mentioned how Penny can be a bit judgmental, and I admit I noticed that as well. However, it didn’t actually bother me too much. It’s clear that Penny is a flawed character, she can be rude and judgmental and stereotype, and you should probably recognize this as you read. She’s not the best of role models, but I still did enjoy her story, and honestly, she reads more like a real person this way. Nobody is perfect.
I really loved Sam, the starving artist too. He bakes, and the food descriptions practically had me drooling haha. In the beginning of the book, he was clearly so tortured, still reeling from a horrible, messy breakup from a long term relationship, and seeing him heal slowly with Penny, and his character growth to the ending was lovely.
I really liked Penny’s relationship with her new roommate and her other friend too! It’s clear that her roommate, Jude, is just so different from her, and they aren’t the type to normally be friends, but they do end up developing an unlikely friendship that I loved. Penny was definitely a bit of a crappy roommate at times, but Jude called her out on it, which I was glad to see, and I just really loved it by the end.