Emergency Contact – Mary H K Choi

“Tell me something Penny…”
Penny knew that whatever Madison Chandler was going to say, she wouldn’t enjoy it. Madison Chandler leaned in close, mouth smiling, beady eyes narrow. Penny held her breath.
“Why is your mum such a slut?”

Emergency ContactFor Penny Lee high school was a total non-event. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.
Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.
When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch–via text–and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

What I thought

This is another one that I read in a day and really enjoyed. The two main characters (Penny and Sam) have their own distinct lives, this means the story doesn’t revolve around a will they/won’t they plot line. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but is something that can be overdone and seeing something different is always good.

Sam’s relationship with his ex is really realistic, the way that you might be completely in love with someone and know that it’s been historically bad between the pair of you but desperate and in love enough to try again. Most of the way through the book he doesn’t appear to consider Penny as even a potentially love interest as he is unable to see past his ex.

The idea of having an emergency contact to talk to when you’re struggling is a really good one. It is definitely easier to talk to someone without any background baggage or history as it can mean you don’t have to worry about saying something that could make them feel bad. We all censor ourselves and act in a different way around different people so having someone outside of that can be useful. We can see how the two characters need this. They need someone outside of their life to offer a helping hand and a listening ear.

The things they worry about and the way they react to different issues is very realistic. It’s about learning how to keep going and also how to pick yourself up again whilst the world keeps throwing things at you. Penny finds strength in words and language whilst Sam refinds his original passion of documentary making.

It is also important to note that it is an Own Voice story. This means that the way Penny deals or faces with being an Asian American, as well as the stereotypes thrown at her, is done both well and realistic. It’s not thrown in your face but there is no denying it’s existence. Penny takes things on the chin and forces herself to keep going and ignore them and you get the feeling that it is because she is used to it. Her relationship with her mother is much more at the forefront of the story. Penny feels that the roles between them have been flipped and is longing to get away to have a chance to just be herself and find out properly who that person is without having to keep an eye on her mother.
As a side note the way she is almost a parody of a middle aged mother/scouting leader by always having everything that could possibly be needed in her bag made me laugh.  But when you think about it a bit harder it is sad that she’s had to become this prepared for the worst.


Why I read it

I ordered it due to a conversation as par of one #UKYAChat. It arrived about 5 minutes before I left the house to see John Robins at the Apollo (are you on email?) and therefore it  kept me company on the journey to and form London as well as reading while in the theatre waiting for the show to start.


Final Thought

I found this a really fun story. Penny and Sam both have their own issues and are very different people using each other as a life belt. I’m really glad I read this one.


Would I recommend? Yes. it’s a good story about mental health and living away from home and your normal support system.



Popsugar: Author with a different ethnicity to you, about mental health, published in 2018, problem facing society today.

Read Harder: Romance by or about a PoC.


The beady eyed among you will have noticed that this isn’t ‘My name is Victoria’ that’ll be because I cleverly saved it on my memory stick and then left that stick at work. So I swapped it for this one which was saved on my home computer. I’m trying to keep ahead by a couple of reviews so that I don’t panic about getting one up in time. Also I’ve only got 2 left for April so that’ll be done by the end of the week and I’ll officially only be a month behind!

I’ve also decided to get up a schedule for my posts of Tues, Thurs, and Sat so I should be keeping to that from now on.

As always please let me know what you think of my review and if you’ve read it or not. I’d love to hear what you have to say!


P.S The next one will be ‘My Name is Victoria’ by Lucy Worsely. Promise


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