ARC Review: Emmy & Oliver

Emmy & Oliver
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Release date: June 23, 2015

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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?

If you have been watching Finding Carter on MTV, then this story is quite similar to it. Oliver was kidnapped by his dad ten years ago. During that time, Emmy’s parents were the pillar for Oliver’s mom, always being there for her; but this changes them too. They become extra-cautious when it comes to Emmy, making her feel stifled in her house. She wants to be free to pursue her love of surfing, but is afraid her parents will only fret and worry, and forbid her from ever doing it. So, she sneaks around, and even applies to a university without telling them.

When Oliver comes back, he finds a big shift in his life and identity. He had a life with his father but when he learned the truth, he decided to come back. But his return has spurred on changes in the lives of people in this town, and he feels responsible and guilty for it. His guilt makes it difficult to communicate with his long-lost mother and at the same time, he can’t fully hate his father. From a character development perspective, Oliver had a lot of material, and the author delved well into that. The writing doesn’t shy from getting real, and into the minds of the characters, so even from Emmy’s first person perspective, you can get to know all the characters, including how they feel and what their problems are. Like Caro’s feelings on how invisible she feels in her family, several other secondary characters also get their piece.

While the blurb might lead you to believe it’s all about the romance, that is not entirely true. Sure, picking up where they left off ten years ago – as best friends is not possible for them, but they grow into this rekindled friendship, finally evolving into love. She is the one who understands what he is feeling, as she was also an indirect victim of his kidnapping. More than their love, the story is about how they and their families find a way to understand each other. How love – be it romantic or familial – is not about saying but about actions, as said by Oliver. As a contemporary, it succeeds in bringing that story to the forefront. The romance could have very easily being the focal point of the book, but teenage angst and drama were thankfully not a part of this story. It’s more of how life can throw a curve ball, and you got to work with it. There’s no point in looking back or even trying to get back to the before, because you are changed, and you are a new person in the after. I felt that was such a beautiful aspect of the story.

Received a free ARC from Harper Teen via Edelweiss; this does not influence my opinions or review.

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