Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway // more like Emmy & her irrational and seriously overprotective parents

I have been waiting to read Emmy & Oliver for over a year. I actually got it two Christmases ago (in 2015). I waited to read it, though, because I read Eleanor & Park in January and thought they might be too similar to read back-to-back.

I ended up waiting an entire year. (I actually finished Emmy & Oliver exactly one year after I finished Eleanor & Park.)

Was it worth the wait? Well…kind of? Maybe?

Goodreads Description:

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?

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 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.

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?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through 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.

– The characters.
Emmy, Oliver, Caro, Drew. Each person was a unique individual, and I loved them all. Even though Caro and Drew weren’t exactly key players in the story, they still felt fully developed and had their own quirks. And I don’t think anyone was really stereotyped.

– The witty banter.
Oh, gosh. Conversations between Emmy and Oliver were just great. Oliver is a hilarious, adorable person. Emmy always had a quick comeback. Their conversations were probably my favorite part of the book.

– The focus.
This one actually threw me for a loop, because the main focus of this book is not what it’s marketed to be. With the hearts on the cover and beginning of each chapter, you’d think that this would be a cutesy romance about two long-lost friends that are reconnected with each other. And yeah, there is some of  that. But the main conflict in this book is not really Oliver’s kidnapping. It’s all about how Emmy’s parents have reacted to the kidnapping. It has caused them to be severely overprotective and at times irrational.

That said, I think the dynamic of this conflict was done really well. Despite them being so overprotective, they still have a relatively good relationship with their daughter. They’re loving parents. She’s a good kid. She does some things behind their backs, but she’s not completely rebellious. When she gets in trouble for her phone dying, she feels bad and apologizes. It’s only when they start taking away things that are close to her that she begins to fight back. Still, you see both sides. Emmy is becoming an adult and has dreams that her parents aren’t supportive of. Her parents watched their friend go through one of the worst things a parent could ever go through. It’s a complicated situation.




– The inconsistencies.
Some readers might not even notice things like this, but it really drives me crazy. Parts of the book just felt really disconnected from each other, like there were big gaps in the time it was written or something. For instance, when Emmy first takes Oliver surfing, they stop by Drew’s garage to borrow a wetsuit. But then when they go to Drew’s house later for a party, Oliver acts like he hasn’t seen the house:

We drove past Drew’s driveway, which was U-shaped and long, and Oliver glanced up at the Tudor-style windows that seemed to be glaring down at us. “I feel like I should be remembering this,” he said.

There were other things, too, like how the book repeatedly noted that Caro shared a room with her sister Heather. Like, we got it the first time. No need to keep saying it over and over.

– The irrelevant details.
I was a nervous wreck through most of this book because I kept expecting something bad to happen. And there were little details thrown here and there in a scene that built tension but led to nothing. Example: one morning Emmy keeps waiting for Oliver to text her but he never does, and the car is gone from his driveway but she doesn’t know where his family went. Then she goes to Starbucks with Drew and gets stuck in traffic. For like, two or three pages Drew keeps making comments about the slow traffic while they have a conversation. So I’m thinking…oh no. Oliver was in a car wreck. But no. The scene cuts and they’re in Starbucks and Oliver shows up shortly after. The traffic is never mentioned again, so what was the point??

– The cliche writing (mostly towards the end).
Again, this isn’t a thing that most readers would even notice but it’s something that gets under my skin (and it seems to be happening in a lot of books lately?).

…maybe it’s that middle ground that hurts the most, when you can see them and still not feel like you’re near enough. So close and yet so far.


– The insta-resolution-everything ending.
No real spoilers here but everything is magically wrapped up in about three pages. Not even that. It’s like one minute there’s a huge problem and the next minute everything is perfectly fine. Then BOOM! over. Kinda like a Rainbow Rowell ending.

I liked this book, and it had some good surprises, but it wasn’t quite as good as I wanted it to be. I recommend if you’re looking for a lighter read, particularly during summer.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars


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