Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: June 23, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "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."Emmy and Oliver have been best friends for as long as Emmy can remember. They were next door neighbors, playmates, and pals at school, that is until one day Oliver is kidnapped by his father at age seven and taken away from everything and everyone he knows. Emmy is sort of left with this hole in her heart as well as a physical hole left by his absence. Things move on though, but Emmy does think about Oliver from time to time. Where is he? What does he look like? He shows up ten years later; the police found him in New York City with his father. He is returning home finally, but how will things be between Emmy and her former best friend? Robin Benway's snappy dialogue and beautiful setting of a beach town make Emmy & Oliver a delightful summertime read.
Emmy is an interesting and multilayered character in Emmy & Oliver. She has tried to move on since Oliver's kidnapping, but sometimes it's hard when she still lives next door to his house and all of those memories. Since Oliver's kidnapping, her parents have become extremely overprotective, to the point where she doesn't feel comfortable telling them about how she loves surfing or where she wants to apply to college. So, she lies to them instead of forcing the issue. Emmy's small group of friends are fantastic. I loved her relationship with Drew and Caro; Benway does a great job of portraying true friends dealing with the ups and downs of adolesnce while trying to navigate the messy waters of Oliver's returns.
Bennett also does a good job developing Oliver, a truly conflicted character due to his circumstances. He should be happy to be reunited with his mom and former friends, but he hasn't really lived a normal life until this point and it's quite an adjustment. Plus, his mom has remarried and has two young children, which make the return home even more of an adjustment. He feels almost kidnapped all over again, but thankfully, Emmy reaches out to him and they forge a new friendship and perhaps something even more in Emmy & Oliver.
The setting of California makes Emmy & Oliver an entertaining beach read. Plus, there's a lot of surfing, which made my beach bum heart happy. I love that Emmy goes to the ocean to find solace, to get away from things, and she shares this love with Oliver.
Emmy & Oliver is my first novel by Robin Benway and I have to say I enjoyed her clever dialogue and true portrayal of adolescents. I definitely want to check out her books in the future, particularly Audrey, Wait!
Fans of smart beach reads as well as fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy Emmy & Oliver, which comes out this June.