Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway (ARC Review)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication: June 15th, 2015
Pages: 342
Song I Played While Reading: Birds Fly by Hardwell
Rating: 4 stars

emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.
She wants to stay out late, surf at her favorite beach- go anywhere without her parents' relentless worrying. But Emmy's parents can seem to let her go- not sine the day ten years ago when her best friend, Oliver, disappeared. 

oliver needs a moment to figure it all out.
He'd thought, all these years, that his father was the good guy. He never knew that his dad had kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it all at once- and returning to his old hometown- has his heart aching and his thoughts swirling

emmy & oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. To Emmy, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still meant to be? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles- impossible to fit together?

When I first say this cover, maybe around 3 months ago, I scoffed at it.
"How many times can you write a love story about two sick kids?" is what I thought. I'm being totally honest here, so sorry if I offend anyone. It was my initial reaction because c'mon, you can't deny that there are an alarming amount of novels being written about two kids falling in love, and one of them (or both) is always sick. So I told myself I wasn't going to read this one because it all kinda blurs together for me.
Fast forward two months and I was walking towards the Harper Teen table at Yallwest, eagerly devouring all the free books they had left. Admittedly there were only 2; this one, and another one that I can't remember the name of. I picked up the latter, still judging Emmy & Oliver, scanned the summary, and put it down. It didn't sound very interesting, so I quickly snatched up E&O (since there were only 3 of them left) and finally read the summary. And I was completely blown away.
Wait, no sick kids??
Whoa, one of them was kidnapped by their dad?!
And he's coming back to town?! And the lovers were best friends since birth?!
*cue the mental fight I had with myself for judging this book by its cover and title*
S/O to the higher power that led me to getting an ARC copy of this, you rock.
For my final rating, I had to sleep on it. I finished the story already in a funky mood, and even with the sweet ending, I was bitchy. So I knew I couldn't write the review with a clouded mind.
Overall, it was REALLY good. For the first 60% of the book I was on cloud 9, cackling and swooning. I haven't read a book this funny in a long, long time, so it was refreshing. The dialogue was witty and the characters straightforward. It wasn't all about the blooming relationship; instead, we see a fantastic friendship between 3 people that was so cliche and perfect that I couldn't get over it. They had me in stitches.
Emmy is definitely one of my favorite narrators. We're a lot alike. She accepted her life and enjoyed it the best she could, even with certain setbacks. She had her friends, her surfing, and her family, and that was all that mattered to her. So I really respected her optimistic attitude, even when things got shitty. Oliver was equally a strong character, and I loved them together. There was absolutely no drama (at least between them) and for that I am eternally grateful. It was beautiful and simplistic enough that it had me yearning for a guy like Ollie. (Course when do I NOT long for a guy in a book)
Though I enjoyed the characters, there was a certain point in the story when I lost the connection to them, and it of course had to happen when things started getting very emotional. It spanned for maybe 20 pages, and then I easily jumped back in. Thats when I started getting in my funky mood, so you could say that it was 85% me and 15% the writing.
The plot flowed but the ending felt a little rushed, and took me completely by surprise. I got a little teary-eyed and felt that Benway wrapped it up well-enough, though I wish we could have delved more into the kidnapping aspect.
Altogether, this was a hilarious, sweet, and uplifting read about first love, friendship, family, and standing up for yourself. I recommend it to everyone!

Quotes
"Thats when I first learned about true frustration, that wrenching ache when the thing that matters most to you barely makes a ripple in other people's lives."

""I don't have a license," he said. "I didn't really need one in New York."
"Oh yeah. Right. Okay. Well, then I guess I'll drive. Doing want to do anything illegal, right?" I tried to smile as I realized, I just made a joke about illegal activity to someone who had been kidnapped for ten years. Oh god. Let the trauma begin.
But Oliver just turned around. "Give me a few minutes. Gotta find my keys." He patted his pockets, like they were hiding somewhere in his jeans.
"Sure!" I said, then went to fire up my car, my jaw tight with embarrassment.
This was all my parents's fault."

"There were two figures in the backseat, one much taller than the other. I saw the outline of Maureen's hair and realized with a sickening feeling that I didn't recognize the other person at all.
And right then, I wanted it to stop. I wanted to go back to surfing yesterday afternoon and have Caro announce nothing more exciting than a pop quiz in calculus that she totally failed. I wanted the neighbors to mind their own business and to my complete horror, I wanted Oliver to go back to New York. His disappearance had created such a huge chasm that it still hadn't fully repaired itself, and I didn't know if I was ready to have it ripped open all over again. As terrible as the past ten years had been, they were familiar. I wasn't sure if I was ready to trade them in for a brand-new set of issues and worries."

""Those look painful," Oliver commented, trying to avoid Caro digging her heel into his shoulder. "Why does everything you do look like it hurts?"
"Because!" Caro huffed with a final shove. "You guys want us to look natural and theres nothing natural about look natural."
I could see the confusion cross Oliver's face and stifled my own smile.

""I didn't ever have normal," Oliver said. " I mean, I thought I did, but now..." He shrugged a little. "I just wish I had known you all longer. All those years. Without the ten-year gap in the middle. It would have been nice."
Caro stared at him a moment, then burst into tears.
"Oh shit," Olivers face, already solemn, immediately shifted to panic. "Caro, no. Oh, god. What is she doing? Did I break her?"

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