16 June 2015

Today's Read: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & Oliver by Robin BenwayImagine being seven years old and finding out that your best friend had disappeared without a trace. How would your childhood be affected? Now imagine that friend returned ten years later. Would you still have anything in common? That's the story of Emmy and Oliver:

The last time Emmy sees Oliver is on their forty-third day of second grade.

Oliver is her next-door neighbor and her friend. They were born in the same hospital on the same day: July 7—7/7. She thinks she pretty lucky to have a friend who lives next door and shares a birthday with her. She can just visit him any old time she wants, but not all the time because sometimes Oliver goes to his dad's house on the weekends.
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway (HarperCollins / HarperTeen, 2015, p. 1)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: coastal southern California; modern times
  • Circumstances: Emmy and Oliver are best friends until Oliver fails to return home after a long weekend with his father; the police call the disappearance a kidnapping. Over the years, Emmy and her friends still remember Oliver, wishing he would come back. In the meantime, Emmy's parents have become overprotective, and Emmy struggles to find her independence and to follow her passions. Oliver's mother never gives up hope that her boy will be returned, but eventually she remarries and begins a new family. Ten years later, Oliver is found, living in New York City. His father flees, but Oliver is returned to his mother to finish out his senior year. Is it possible to build a bridge between past and present?
  • Characters: Emmy and her parents; Emmy's friends Caro and Drew; Oliver and his parents and stepfamily; various other neighbors and classmates
  • Genre: YA contemporary
  • Themes so far: friendship, family, survival, trauma, finding ways to reach understanding
  • What I like so far: The teens have authentic voices and concerns. The parents' reactions to the presumed kidnapping, the empty years, and the return, also seem realistic. Although I'm sure romance is on at least Emmy's mind, the story (so far) is less on that and more on trying to find a way to recapture what was lost.
  • Two perspectives: There are two sides to this tale, though the story is told through Emmy's eyes. For Emmy and her friends, the crisis is over. They are ready and eager to welcome Oliver home; they remember every little thing of their early childhood and can't wait to pick up where they left off. But for Oliver, a new crisis is starting. He has been taken from his East Coast home and is now living with and among people he barely remembers. He doesn't know how to meet the expectations of friends, family, and the community, not to mention his new stepfamily. The story is played out against these two conflicting perspectives.
  • Things to know: This could be a dark book with very tough themes, but Benway softens the plot with witty dialogue and appropriate humor. My prediction is that Emmy and Oliver help each other grow and prepare for the all the possibilities of their futures. I'm not yet sure if they will leave high school as boyfriend and girlfriend or as BFFs, but either way, I'm enjoying their journey.


(Diane) bookchickdi 6/16/15, 7:37 AM  

Reading this review put me in mind of Jacqueline Mitchard's THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN, which made me cry.

Amanda 6/16/15, 7:40 AM  

I definitely need to read this.

The Book Rogue 6/16/15, 8:05 AM  

Sounds like a good book, although not my thing. I hope you end up loving it to the last page.

Thanks for stepping by and sharing! Happy Tuesday!

Molly Totoro 6/16/15, 8:28 AM  

I am wanting to read more YA, and this sounds like a good one for the list!

sherry fundin 6/16/15, 8:46 AM  

Poor kid. Tough situation.
sherry @ fundinmental My TT

bermudaonion 6/16/15, 8:50 AM  

This sounds like something from today's headlines. I have a feeling I'd like it!

Kathy Martin 6/16/15, 9:02 AM  

Great teaser and great book! I'm teasing this one on my YA blog this week. So I'll share my other teaser with you. I'm teasing Ever After by Jude Deveraux on my adult blog this week. It's a romance with ghosts. Happy reading!

Kim@Time2Read 6/16/15, 9:22 AM  

Sounds interesting. Oliver is in a tough place. I'll watch for this one!

Meg @ write meg! 6/16/15, 9:28 AM  

Definitely going to look for this one -- sounds great!

Vicki 6/16/15, 9:34 AM  

I can't imagine being in Oliver's situation, returning after 10 years. I think I'd enjoy this book.

grammajudyb 6/16/15, 10:16 AM  

This definitely looks like a book I would like! Thanks for the intro.

Daryl 6/16/15, 10:18 AM  

inviting but i am not sure i will accept the invite ... but thanks none the less

Literary Feline 6/16/15, 10:29 AM  

This does sound interesting. I like the introduction and your description of the book has me curious. I can only imagine how difficult it would be for Oliver. I am glad the author has found a good balance and the book isn't too dark and sad.

Laurel-Rain Snow 6/16/15, 11:32 AM  

While I would not have picked this one up based on the title, I am so glad that I have a chance for another look. Thanks for sharing what seems like a great story. Adding it to my list.

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Monica's Bookish Life 6/16/15, 11:42 AM  

I don't usually read YA, but this book sounds really good.

JLS Hall 6/16/15, 11:42 AM  

This one seems to be very popular right now. Sounds interesting but sad. Hope you enjoy the rest of it!

Lexxie Lin 6/16/15, 11:52 AM  

I really like the sound of Emmy and Oliver, Beth! Thanks for sharing :)

Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

Catherine BookClubLibrarian 6/16/15, 12:15 PM  

I like the premise of this book, and am interested in how the story progresses. I'd definitely keep reading.

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Suzie Quint 6/16/15, 12:17 PM  

This is the third featured book I've seen this week that deals with people going missing. Must be a trend. Still, it's a theme I like because it's one Harlan Coben writes a lot, so I'd probably read this.

Sandra Nachlinger 6/16/15, 12:30 PM  

Sounds like a believable premise. I'm interested in finding out how the boy copes after he is returned to his mother and how he has changed. I rarely read YA fiction, but this sounds like a story I'd enjoy.
Thank you for visiting my blog today.

Greg 6/16/15, 1:31 PM  

THis looks good. I can see where Emmy would be like, yay you're back but it would be a little tougher for the other one just to pretend everything is the same. I like that it's not all dark too- a little humor goes a long way, even with serious subject matter. Looks great!

Kay 6/16/15, 1:55 PM  

Yes, I've read a bit about this one and thought it sounded really good. Look forward to reading it this summer.

Cleo Bannister 6/16/15, 2:53 PM  

This certainly sounds like it has a great premise. I don't read an awful lot of YA but this sounds very promising.

Margot 6/16/15, 3:24 PM  

I suspect there is a lot of heartbreak in this book, but I'm curious how the boy handles everything when he comes back after such a long time. Yes, I'd keep reading.

Tribute Books Mama 6/16/15, 3:56 PM  

This sounds really intriguing.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 6/16/15, 7:55 PM  

Probably not for me. I don't generally care for YA. The Fault of Our Stars was an exception though.

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