Monday, June 22, 2015

Emmy & Oliver ~ Robin Benway review [@robinbenway @harperteen]

Emmy & Oliver
Harper Teen
June 23, 2015
352 pages
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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.

Emmy & Oliver turned out not to be exactly what I had expected - in probably the best possible way.

I loved how Oliver's reintroduction to his life, his mother, her new family, school and his old town was handled. I liked that we knew his mother, his past, and about the search for him before we knew Oliver. It lets readers get a sense of all that he's going into by returning 'home.'

It was great that it was not an easy, effortless transition on anyone's part - Oliver's, Emmy's, their families, childhood friends, anyone. It has been a decade since Oliver disappeared so most everyone in the high school remembers that he was taken, not necessarily Oliver himself. Their reactions both make sense and add one more difficult layer to Oliver's return.

You cannot say too much about Oliver's return without mentioning Emmy. Emmy is what surprised me about Emmy & Oliver. Even with her name coming first in the title, I expected her to secondary to Oliver in the story. She is not and I love, love her story.

The impact Oliver's disappearance had on his mother, how finding out the truth and coming home is affecting him, is more predictable. What made the novel really stand out to me, was Emmy's character and the relationship she forms with Oliver after he comes home. The parental abduction of her next door neighbor and best friend ten years ago has played a huge role in Emmy's life.

She has a relationship with her parents that I love, but we also see how much what happened to Oliver that day has played into what's happened to her every day after.

I love how honest, sweet, charming, heartbreaking, romantic, painful, and hopeful Emmy & Oliver and Emmy and Oliver are. Robin Benway does a terrific job with Oliver's absence, his return and everything that entails (for Oliver and everyone else, too); with Emmy's struggle to live the life she wants without upsetting her restrictive parents; and with how Emmy and Oliver attempt to figure out - if? - they fit now.

The only thing I did not love about the novel was the narration in the little 'interludes.' I love Benway's writing, the voice she gives Emmy and how utterly readable it is, how quickly you're pulled right into her story. Particularly because of the parenthetical remarks, that voice seemed to also be in the third person interludes. It felt like it was still Emmy telling the things, despite being omniscient third person.

Other Books You Might Also Enjoy: (not a book, but worth the rec) Finding Carter and Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

digital galley received through Edelweiss and finished copy from publisher

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