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I Belong


Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & OliverTitle: Emmy & Oliver

Author: Robin Benway

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Series: N/A

Publication Date: June 23, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062330594 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978- 0062330598 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Zed

Synopsis:

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?

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 had 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.

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will devour 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.

Quick & Dirty: An adorable childhood romance wrapped in the aftermath of a kidnapping.

Opening Sentence: Oliver disappeared after school on a Friday afternoon, way back when we were in second grade, and small things seemed really important and important things seemed too small.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I don’t read much contemporary romance but let me tell you, I thought Emmy and Oliver was a fantastic read. Ollie is kidnapped by his father when he is seven years old, and for ten years his friends, family and neighbours’ search for him. Until one day, he’s found and brought home but life isn’t what you think it will be, everyone was so focused on locating him for ten years that no one considered what would happen after, and that’s what this story is about.

Sometimes I think that all superstitions-crossing your fingers, not stepping on cracks, shrines like the one in Oliver’s room-come from wanting something too much.

Emmy and Oliver is told through Emmy’s perspective, as Ollie’s best friend from childhood and his next door neighbour, his disappearance affected her the most (after his mother of course). I loved her character, she’s so honest, witty and down to earth that it’s hard not to. Her emotions feel all too real, what if Ollie doesn’t remember her anymore, and what if they can’t rebuild their friendship, what if he’s changed?

“Do you think he even remembers us?” Drew asked. “It’s been ten years.”
“Don’t say that,” I snapped before I could stop myself. Drew’s fork froze in the air as he stared at me. My mom was watching me across the kitchen, too. I had seen that look too many times over the years, the “oh my God, is our child damaged beyond repair?” look and I was in no hurry to see it again. 
“Of course he remembers us,” I said. “Why wouldn’t he? We remember him. How could he forget us?”

I sympathized with Emmy because of her over protective parents. They freaked out so much with Oliver’s disappearance that they ended up suffocating their only daughter in response. When they weren’t wrapping Emmy up in bubbletape they were actually quite funny (Oliver’s mother-not so much!)

I looked up at my dad. “Tonight, when Oliver and I were talking, I said I’d still love you, even if you kidnapped me. I really would. I get how he feels.”
My dad smiled. “That’s the nicest and most sociopathic thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

Oliver’s character is heavily burdened by the past 10 years because as far as he knew, his mum left him whilst his dad brought him up in New York. And he was mostly happy, something that everyone else finds really hard to believe and Oliver feels guilty about once he learns the truth. Not only that, we get to see Oliver’s anger too, at how everyone’s lives changed without him. He’s heard about their worry and the panic that followed after his kidnapping but as far as he’s concerned, in the last ten years no one ever found him and when he returned, even his mother re-married and had two kids. So the reader can see why Oliver feels out of sorts. It’s really hard on Oliver and he doesn’t know how he fits into this ‘new’ life of his, and the author describes his problems perfectly.

“I just don’t want the next time I see my dad to be in a courtroom,” Olive sighed. “Or through a plate-glass window whilst he’s wearing an orange jumpsuit.”
I just hugged him and didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything to say. Sometimes there just aren’t enough words to fill the cracks in your heart.

Their romance is adorable, it’s cheesy at times but it starts off steadily, with uncertainty, which was cute. I was a little wary to begin with because it was clear that Emmy felt strongly about Oliver and I thought as soon as he returns there would be love at first sight and full on soppyness but I’m glad that wasn’t the case. Their struggle over getting to know each other again, starting over, rather than picking up where they left off, was real and I liked it.

“After your dad kidnapped you,” I echoed, but the words sounded a lot sadder coming out of his mouth than they did coming out of mine. “Me and Caro and Drew, we all went, but then one of them made Drew cry-I don’t remember what he said, exactly, but he said something-and so Caro kicked the therapist and then I kicked him and we didn’t have to go anymore.”
“Why’d you kick him?”
“Because I,” I said, placing my hand over my heart,” am a very loyal friend, Oliver.”

My favourite part was Emmy’s surfing. It was both her strength and her weakness because she had to go to extreme lengths to hide her hobby from her parents, but it was also her strength because it was the thing that helped define her character. Oliver was a crucial part of her life but he didn’t define her and I loved Emmy’s independence in this story. If nothing else, that’s one reason why I would recommend this story, because it’s not just a love story, it’s so much more.

Notable Scene:

But now Oliver was standing too, his napkin balled up in his hand. “Do you really think he’s gonna kidnap me again? Is that what you think?”

“I don’t know!” Maureen yelled, and now she was standing, too. My mom sat back down reluctantly, then reached for my hand under the table. “I didn’t think he would take you the first time, but guess what? He did!”

“I’m almost eighteen!” Oliver said. “What, do you think he’s just going to drag me away somewhere? I’m five inches taller than him!”

“You are?! Maureen blinked. She seemed to sag a little and her lower lip trembled for a second, but then she regained her composure. “Oliver, listen to me. Keith committed a crime, a big one. He is a criminal. He is not to be trusted. You need to accept that.”

“Stop talking about him like that’s all he did!” Oliver shouted. “He raised me, okay? He taught me how to ride a bike, he took care of me when I was sick!”

“He was an alcoholic!” Maureen cried. “I had no idea if you were hungry, if you were starving…”

“Dad never drank!” Oliver said. “You think you know everything and you don’t! I was fine!”

“What if you got sick? Do you think he would have taken you to an emergency room or a hospital? He didn’t even take you to the goddamn dentist!”

“He and I were there, Mom. You weren’t!”

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FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Emmy & Oliver. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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