I have read a lot of young adult romance-type books that made me roll my eyes and skip over half of the book because it was just so cheesy and terrible that I couldn’t even bear to read it. I have read a lot of young adult coming-of-age books that had characters that were typical, one dimensional, and/or absolutely annoying, and it made the book a chore to read.
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway isn’t either of those things.
Emmy & Oliver is a fantastic book that made me realize why I fell in love with young adult fiction in the first place.
The story is so real and believable. The characters are likeable, and the writing feels like it’s drawing you into the story and creating a place for you right alongside the rest of them. I felt like not only was I reading the book, but like I was an actual character in the book, too. I felt all kinds of emotions…happiness, excitement, sadness, anger, heartbreak…you name it, and I felt it while reading this book. I can’t remember the last time a book made me feel like this.
Emmy is so thankful when she finds out that Oliver has been found and is returning home, but at the same time, she doesn’t really know how to act around him, or how to treat him. She wants things to back to normal for the two of them (well, for her friends Caro and Drew, too…who used to be good friends with Oliver before the kidnapping as well), but isn’t sure that’s possible. She has her own life now, and isn’t sure that Oliver will have any interest in fitting in with it. She surfs. She hangs out with her friends. She applies to a college that she doubts her parents will let her go to (because they’re incredibly overprotective since Oliver was kidnapped ten years ago). But she tries to make Oliver feel at home again, and although he is angry and confused, the two of them try and work through Oliver’s feelings and form a friendship all over again.
I have never wanted a fictional couple to be together like I was hoping for the best for Emmy and Oliver. I felt attached to them while reading this book.
There are small chapters every here and there that have to do with Emmy and Oliver during their childhood together. These range from birthday parties, to being at the park together, and they are absolutely adorable. They really do add something different to the novel that give you an insight into the type of close friendship the two of them had before Oliver’s father kidnapped him. As Emmy and Oliver work on rekindling their friendship (and becoming something more), looking back on these moments from their childhoods is sweet and meaningful.
The obstacles that Oliver faces after coming back to California and trying to fit back into a normal life in high school are heartbreaking, especially when he feels left out and like he no longer is a part of the group of friends that he used to be close with when he was younger.
I truly can’t think of a single thing that I didn’t like about this book. It is young adult fiction at its finest, and definitely deserves a spot on your shelf if you’re into young adult books.
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.