Emmy & Oliver
by Robin Benway
Original Publication Date: June 23, 2015
Length: 352 pages
Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
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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?
I’ve enjoyed every Robin Benway novel I’ve read, and Emmy & Oliver was no exception. In fact, dare I say that it might even be my favorite Robin Benway novel? Because I think it is. Emmy and Oliver were best friends when Oliver’s dad kidnapped him. Now, several years later, Oliver is back and he and Emmy have to figure out their new relationship as long with their own difficulties–Oliver’s having trouble adjusting to the fact that he’s back and that his dad did indeed kidnap him all those years ago, and Emmy’s dealing with over-protective parents who don’t want her to surf or go off to college.
Robin Benway just has this way of writing that gets what it means to be a teenager that I think so many authors miss. It’s not that all her characters are the same–they aren’t–but she perfectly nails the happy moments, the confusion, the angst, and the sad moments. There’s this immediacy to all her characters where they’re just so vividly written that you feel they’re in the next room and you could easily just waltz in and talk to them. I loved reading about Emmy and her friends. They all had such great stories and had wonderful humorous moments. It reminded me a lot of my friend group in high school and the way that there’s often a certain. . . hmm, style of conversation? It’s not necessarily inside jokes, but the way when you get really close to some people as a group you sort of subconsciously come up with your a personal way of interacting with each other.
I also adored the burgeoning romance between Emmy and Oliver. There’s a lot the two characters have to unpack in their relationship because of Oliver’s history, but it’s never needlessly dramatic. It feels so natural, like OF COURSE these two characters will get together. Their(adorable) relationship is written in a way where you couldn’t conceive of anything else for these two.
Emmy & Oliver is a novel about interpersonal relationships more than anything else. There’s a lot put in the romance, but also the friendship and the child-parent dynamics. The novel is narrated by Emmy, but even so when reading you get a LOT of insight into Oliver’s emotions. It’s heartbreaking and also heartwarming at times. Benway portrays a very complex situation with ease, as well as Emmy’s relationship with her over-protective parents. It’s clear that Emmy does love her parents–and they clearly love her–but they’re often not on the same wavelength. I think that type of dynamic will strike a chord with many readers, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much page time it got in the book.
This is definitely a new favorite Benway! It’s a little more serious than any of her other novels, but it still has fluffy and fun moments, and often really humorous ones. 4/5 cupcakes.