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#Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi


emergency-contact-9781534408968_hrEmergency Contact

Author: Mary H.K. Choi

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre/Themes/Demo: YA, Contemporary

Release Date: March 27th 2018

Page Count: 400

Format: eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley

ISBN: 9781534408968

Author Website | Book Depository | Amazon | Chapters/Indigo

Goodreads | Kobo

Maria's Rating -4-01

*Disclaimer: An ARC of Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi was provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.

Quick Thoughts

  • very quick paced and fast read
  • alternating perspectives between the two leads
  • Korean-American representation
  • a more mature contemporary story with a main character in college, therefore avoiding petty high school drama
  • while majority of the story is light, it deals with tougher subject matter as well such as problematic mother figures, sexual assault and anxiety/panic attacks
  • while I thought this would focus on the relationship, it was a very slow burn kind of romance and felt as though the story focused a lot on these characters and their creative endeavours
  • open ending that is somewhat satisfying


For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind. Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

What I Liked

It felt as though Emergency Contact was a contemporary YA novel that was made for me. I find it hard to get into contemporary stories that are on the fluffier side as I tend to gravitate towards stories with darker and more serious undertones. However, Emergency Contact was the perfect blend of both worlds. While I thought it would be mostly light-weight and fluffy, it also added in some more serious topics such as problematic mother figures, sexual assault and anxiety/panic attacks.

Emergency Contact also felt like a very mature read as the main characters were older, with Penny just starting college and Sam in his early 20s. I think that aspect of the novel made this story more relatable for me as the characters are closer to my age bracket. Nothing annoys me more than a contemporary novel filled with petty high school drama and Emergency Contact contained none of that.

I absolutely loved both Penny & Sam and I found them both very relatable. Both of these characters felt very real and believable. I loved that we got to see this story through both of their perspectives as each chapter alternated between Penny & Sam’s point of view. Because these two mostly communicate via texting, we get to see their individual thought process as they try to decided what to say to each other next.

Emergency Contact definitely contains a very slow burn romance between Penny & Sam which was mildly frustrating at times, but for the most part, I think it works well for this story. The only thing that I had a slight problem with was that because of the slow burn, we’re left with a very open ending that I’m not sure I’m a fan of.

What I Didn’t Like

Throughout the novel, Penny & Sam discuss their creative ideas via texting. For Penny, it’s writing and for Sam it’s documentary filmmaking. We get glimpses into each of their creative endeavours, but it felt a little overpowering throughout the novel. We get passages from Penny’s short story and we see moments of Sam working with his documentary subjects, but I felt like this sometimes took away from moments in the story that could have been used exploring their relationship a little further. While it was nice to see them growing as creative people, I felt like these moments kind of took away from the relationship aspect of the story that I was craving.

About The Author


Hi pals. The big news is that MY BOOK IS COMING OUT ON MARCH 27, 2018 on Simon & Schuster. It’s a YA novel called Emergency Contact. You can pre-order it and everything. Read an excerpt on Or read this super-righteous STARRED review on Publisher’s Weekly. Meow. So cool. The other news is that I have some appearances coming up. A few readings, some conventions, some pods and DOY my book release. I’m hanging out with Jami Attenberg at Books Are Magic, which is a seriously rad bookstore in Brooklyn on March 13th, to celebrate the paperback launch of Jami’s most excellent book, All Grown Up. Also featuring Rumaan Alam and Maeve Higgins. I’ll be recording Doree Shafrir and Kate Spencer’s Forever 35 pod later this month in L.A. And then there’s Teen Book Con in Texas on March 24th. Plus, my official book launch at McNally Jackson in SoHo, in conversation with the G.O.A.T., my pal Jenna Wortham on March 27th. Also, find me @choitotheworld for more updates! xo


For more pics like this, check out my bookstagram account: @bigcitybookworm

Thank you for reading!



4 thoughts on “#Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

  1. I am so excited to read this book and your comment on it being a more mature contemporary story has me even more excited. I think my issue with contemporary books lately is that some read a bit too young for me. I’d love to see more books that follow characters that are in college and in their early 20’s because I’d be able to relate to those characters more right now. Anywho, I love that this book finds that balance between the light and fluffy and the darker more serious stuff. Great review. I can’t wait to read this book now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I feel like I’m getting old haha, but a lot of contemporary is starting to feel too young for me, yet a lot of adult literature feels too old? I’m caught in the middle haha! Emergency Contact felt like it was definitely written for readers of my age in mind!


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