Emmy & Oliver - Robin Benway

23 June 2015

Emmy & Oliver – Robin Benway
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Release Date: 16th July 2015
My Rating:
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.
You would not believe how I’ve struggled with reviewing this book. I know that probably makes you think I didn’t like it, but I did. I think that’s the issue! I loved this book. There were so many things to enjoy, but I’ve struggled with how best to verbalise my love. I recently read a post by Cee over at The Novel Hermit about how she struggles to review books she loves and it’s true! It is hard to put into words why you liked a book. I am going to struggle through and try with this book, though.

When I requested this book I admit I expected this to be similar to another book I love, Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. I didn’t expect the story to be the same, but I was expecting to see similar themes between the two that would either make me love or hate this book. Luckily, these were books were similar in only one way, they looked at the struggle of a child returning to their home after being kidnapped when younger. Every other aspect of the story is different, and most importantly they take completely different approaches to the idea.

Benway didn’t write the story directly from Oliver’s point of view and experience, instead she chose to focus on Emmy, Oliver’s best friend from childhood. I’m glad this book was written with a different perspective as that is what made this story unique. This books is less about Oliver’s experience of returning home and much more about Emmy’s story and how Oliver returning home changed things for her, just as kidnapping had all those years before.

Emmy was instantly a likeable character who was simply struggling with overprotective parents and trying to figure out how to get where she wants to go in life. I liked her instantly, I could appreciate how she is just an awkward person that has lived her life in the same place suffering some of the consequences that came from Oliver being taken. She was a child left behind, who lost her best friend and was too young to understand the whys of it all. She then suffered under her parents overprotective grip and living in a small town.

I loved the friendships she had within the book, as well. It wasn’t just about the friendship between Emmy and Oliver, which managed to survive Oliver's prolonged absence, it was also the friendship she had with Caro and Drew. I loved Emmy’s and Drew’s friendship because they were quiet and reserved and let one another gather themselves and their thoughts before approaching things, unlike the friendship with Emmy and Caro. Caro was louder and more up front and the kind of friend who likes to stand out and take charge. She was far more popular and out there, but never did she abandon her friends, that’s what I loved. These friendships were real, and flawed. Caro was always forgetting to thinks of others, and Emmy was continually keeping too many secrets, and Drew was far too reserved at times. He was never speaking up when necessary, these were real characters.

I also enjoyed the fact that there was a genuine presence of family in this book. Too often in YA novels you find teenagers seemingly living with no parental supervision, free to come and go from their home at whatever hours they wish, it as nice to see some strict parents in a book for once. You understand why Emmy's parents have become so paranoid and controlling and you understand why Oliver's mom seems incapable of treating him like a grown up, because she has him forever frozen in her mind as a little boy, and without the years of him growing up she can't fully grasp the same boy hasn't returned to her. I think that was of the more heart-breaking realisations in this book for me, the fact that there were so many lost years simply because one parent didn't want to risk losing someone.

There are important lessons in this book of understanding, growing up and honestly, but I think the most important one is that there are consequences for everything, not just direct ones either. This is demonstrated by Oliver being taken by his father, it didn't just affect Oliver, but Oliver's family and an entire community as a whole for various reasons. It was interesting to read about the changed that occurred because of one event in someone else's life. I think that is another element I enjoyed in this book, it isn't truly about Oliver, Oliver is just a person in Emmy's life, this book is predominantly about Emmy, she is witnessing the struggles of Oliver returning home, but we are also witnessing her own struggles at home as she is trying to grow up and continually struggling with the restrictions her parents put in place because of their own fear.

It's hard to say what I like about this book, because it is a book with a lot going on and it's not easy to explain my thoughts about everything, but I definitely enjoyed it, more than I ever thought I would. This book is far more than the description makes it seem, and I only hope people pick it up and get a chance to enjoy it as I did.

Have you read Emmy & Oliver, what did you think? Did it hit you as well or was it just another YA read? I’d love to know your thoughts.
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