July 27, 2015

Book Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & Oliver
Rating: /5

Get a copy here!

I’ve been eyeing this book ever since it hasn’t even released yet. I was intrigued by its simple cover. Also the title seemed promising. The title Emmy & Oliver breathed out a story of two best friends turn lovers. I was right but apparently the whole story was not as simple as that. Apparently this book brought up a real issue through such great approach of telling.

Emmy wasn’t the one being kidnapped but what had happened to her best friend, Oliver, changed the whole community, including her own parents, into wary people with constant haunted feeling of losing their kids for years. Even after Oliver came back nearly ten years later, it didn’t simply put everything back to normal. Perspective changed, mindset changed, the fear remained the same. Oliver might came back healthy and fine but what the society couldn’t shake was the experience of missing one family member for such a long time without knowing his whereabout and his condition. It wasn’t something that could be forgotten or flip back to normal like a lamp switch on your night stand. This book shows that sometimes people doesn’t necessarily experience such tragic event to get a full effect of that very thing on their life.
And Ms. Benway portrayed the situation very well.
Each emotion was delivered on the right places. The interesting part was this book didn’t need to use heavy words or images to do it all. Instead she chose such a very comforting approach to lay everything bare for readers to understand and judge. I love that this book brought up heavy matters as its main topic but it’s all wrapped up neatly with casual and actually fun writing style through light tone of words. Considering the book’s topic, it should’ve been a depressing or sad read but I found myself laughing a lot through and through.

I really like Emmy’s character. She’s so awkward it’s so damn funny and embarrassing sometimes but at times she’s just so spontaneous, brave, and mature. How she deals with Oliver’s comeback which becomes other people’s latest topic of whispering session, she takes it as one moment that she embraces without hesitation like any other event in her life; her efforts to make Oliver as comfortable as possible facing various reaction of people at home and at school; all of them only makes Emmy such a loveable and awesome character in my eyes.
I love her relationship with her parents. She loves them as much as she wants to be off their radar most of the time. Ever since the boy next door was kidnapped, Emmy’s parents especially her mom has been watching over her like a hawk to its baby egg. Emmy has to live with strict rules like, a). Curfew is real tight; b). Phone calls are to be made every time she’s off to places that isn’t school or her best friends’ houses ―doesn’t mean she’s free to go everywhere without asking permission first, because― c). No unnecessary other activities that considered non-academic related. Emmy loves her parents so much and she isn’t the kind of kid who loves to get on a fight with their folks over early curfew and such. Emmy’s a good girl alright, but being under their constant scrutiny 24/7 isn’t exactly what she imagines it takes to be a good girl. After all, she’s a teenager who’s always in need of doing a lot of things to discover themselves. And again, Emmy’s version of ‘discovering herself’ isn’t something involving illegal deeds. She just wants to surf and that very thing obviously would be a big blow for her mom.
So, she lies.
She lies so she can surf everyday like what her passion really is. She lies so her parents wouldn’t forbid her to get anywhere near the beach with beautiful big waves. The author successfully portrayed this teenagers’ common behavior of lying to her parents in order to keep them from worrying too much. This is a real issue in real life. Strict parents tend to shape ‘liar’ side on their kids. Good thing in this case, the kid only lies so she can do something of her hobbies that actually later becomes a ticket to her future plan. But what’s ironic in our society is most of the time kids lying to do stupid things that will bring them to a destructive path. This book delivers that message precisely for people to see that there’s always much better way to deal with our anxiety, way that doesn’t involve ruining relationship between both parties on the frame. This is great because not many books actually bring up this kind of issue.

What I love the most is how the kids ―the ones who become victims of the adult’ irresponsible act― deal with their issue by trying to find a steady ground to stand, together, where trust and honesty are not just camouflaged things. Emmy and Oliver’s relationship is so beautiful. And I’m not even talking about the romance that built up between them here. I’m referring to their friendship that even though there is a big gap of ten years on the span of time they got to know each other, it doesn’t faze them to pick up just where things were cut off last time. They could easily reconnect and together figured out the life ‘after’. I’m so damn amazed by them and their amazing friendship.
Emmy & Oliver is that kind of book that will leave a mark in your heart because of its deep moral lesson implied inside. Ms. Benway writes each moment beautifully and flawlessly. There is this one scene of ‘kidnapping’ game Emmy and her friends played when they were kids that analogize the real issue innocently yet giving a strong impression about kids whose perspectives were completely changed after the tragedy. That ‘The Wave’ in the end is, oh God, it’s so darn beautiful I feel like crying while re-reading it over and over again… The emotion is all over the place, really.
Now I think I need to get my hands on Ms. Benway’s other books (I have AKA on my to-read list on GR). I think I just got captivated by her writing!

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.


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