[544]: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway


GOODREADS SUMMARY | HarperTeen | June 23rd, 2015 | Hardcover, 352 pp. | Young Adult | Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Emmy & Oliver is a story that we sadly have become very familiar with nowadays. Ripped from the headlines, it’s about a boy kidnapped by his own father when he was very little. He grew up knowing that his mother had abandoned him; and his childhood was not normal by any standards. He was home schooled, and pretty much friend-less. But despite this irregular upbringing, he was well-loved. His father taught him everything a boy should know. His childhood was not a nightmare. He grew up protected, and contented.

Ten years later, news came to Emmy that he’s finally found. Emmy has kept fervour hope that he will eventually come home. But when he did, Oliver was not the same boy she once knew. Their reunion was not what she imagined it would be. Not so much as strained, but awkward in all sense of the word.

Robin Benway captured some of the challenges a person like Oliver would encounter. Someone who was kept from the world and who now must learn how to navigate it. It is difficult to see him adjust, especially with the spotlight being on him.  He also grappled with the  question of how a person he loves like his father could do such a thing. I found it sad, and somehow, I understood why he did what he did.

One of the best things about this book is the lack of teen dramas in a high school setting. No Mean Girls mentality, no hot girls vying for Oliver’s attention/affection. I also liked that it featured one of Emmy’s best friends in a boy/boy romance. And her other best friend,  a neurotic sprite who may or may not be a bit OCD.

But this book is not without its flaws. When you peel the serious layers of this novel, it is, above all things, a story about teens in high school. About two kids who were best of friends growing up. The amount of time that separated them did not diminish their connection. Because of that, we’re to accept their immediate and mutual declaration of love. Unfortunately, I found it awkward. I also found their romance a bit anaemic. There was no spark, and didn’t really sense any real attraction between them.

Fans of contemporary fiction in the vein of Sarah Dessen might find it lacking. But if you’re looking for a fun teen novel with a dash of seriousness, Emmy & Oliver will fit the bill. Though I wish there was less light heartedness and more of the seriousness.


  • I have read two reviews on this with a bit differing results if I remember right. The premise sounds interesting though. I am glad you mostly liked it 🙂

  • It seems like this has been getting mixed reviews. The premise sounds like it would be amazing, but if you don’t feel the romance or feel like the situation is addressed with enough seriousness, I can understand why this would be a little off.

  • Stunning review Joy. <3 But aw, I'm so sorry you didn't love this one : I have heard many good things about it. Sigh. I'm curious. Plot sounds awesome 🙂 But you didn't feel anything for the romance? Ugh. That is not a good sign. Yeah. Might not be a book for me either then, hih 🙂 But glad you still liked the book 😀

    • So many good things about this book! I’m sorry, too that I didn’t like it.

  • I actually really want to read this one! I do have it so it is only a matter of time – maybe I will have some in the summer. But I like the idea of the friendship and romance, well, excepting the whole insta love thing. This sounds like a very character driven kind of novel, but I do like those kind of reads.

    • Perhaps it caught me on a bad day. Who knows? I hope you’ll enjoy it more than I did.

  • I’m glad you were able to enjoy this one Joy! I’m sad you didn’t like it as much as I did though!

    • Sigh. It was just not a “joy” read, yanno?

  • Sounds heartwarming. Oh gosh, I don’t think I’ll be strong enough to survive a kidnapping. I’m already crazy as it is. Oi!

    • The good thing is, Oliver’s father was not a psycho. A little off his rails, but a good father, nonetheless. Lol.

  • I’m glad it didn’t have the usual teen drama. I like the sound of the side characters too. I think I’d like Oliver *wink*

    How did you get on with your importing?

    • Thanks, Naomi! Ack. I can’t seem to make it work for me. Sigh. I’ll keep on trying….

  • Jazmen

    I’ve actually see a lot of five stars for this one so it’s interesting to see you gave it three stars. I actually have this one and I’m really excited to see how it goes. Great review, Joy. Honest and different!

    • Hey, who knows? Maybe this will be the book that pulls you out of your funk? 🙂 Try it!

  • Huh, I’ve seen really good things about this one was kind of wondered. I’m surprised, really, that it’s as light-hearted as you say, considering the subject matter.

    • I know! That’s why I wanted to read it right away. I just didn’t feel like real romantic connection between Emmy & Oliver. The fact that it felt forced didn’t work for me.

  • I’ve just finished Where the Stars Still Shine which is almost a carbon copy of this storyline, as a certain Colleen Hoover book is too. And the only difference between them really, is how well they’ve been written. It sounds like romance just for the sake of appealing to the wider teen market. It might have been a much deeper and more enjoyable read without it actually. So glad you were able to enjoy this for the most part Joy, really lovely review <3

    • Oh trust me, Where the Stars Still Shine is definitely more heart-wrenching than Emmy & Oliver. And if I remember correctly, the character in that novel was very difficult to empathize with.

  • RO

    I like the idea of the story because it seems like it will add much substance, but it does seem a little out there for 2 people to automatically fall in love without the flow of some type of chemistry, particularly in the teen world. Great review! Hugs…

    • It’s surprising to see very little emotions from the characters, that’s all. Considering all the circumstances of Oliver disappearance and homecoming.

  • kindlemom1

    Yay for no teen drama with mean girls but sorry this wasn’t what you were hoping it would be. I had high hopes for this one so now I’m scared to read it.

    • Oh you’ll be fine, I think. You’re more forgiving than I. Lol. I think you’ll love this one, Ali!

  • Aw, sorry to hear that this one wasn’t all you’d hoped. I actually liked their romance, but I guess it is pretty sudden

    • It does seem sudden, but at the same time, they’ve technically known each other for all their lives.

  • That sucks that you didn’t enjoy this one more. For me it had the perfect balance of seriousness and lightheartedness but I can see that if you were expecting something like Sarah Dessen why you would be disappointed.
    I really appreciated the lack of drama as well.
    Great review, Joy!

    • Thanks, Nick. Isn’t though? It’s so rare to find a book in this setting that lacks teen drama. So I was really happy about that.

  • ChristinaBookAddict

    I completely agree with you regarding this book. It was just ok for me. I loved how Benway portrayed friendship in this novel, but the romance was definitely lacking. I also had a hard time believing a few things about the book as well. Great review!

    • Thank you! I really expected to enjoy it more, considering how much everybody loved it. Oh well.

  • Melliane

    Ah it’s too bad about the romance was like that but’s nice not to have any drama

    • Yes, I like that it wasn’t your typical teen drama, but I wish there could’ve been more development in the romance department.

  • No teen drama at school? I am shocked

  • I have heard good things about this one and it is on my TBR. I have heard other reviews (like yours) that mention the romance is a bit lacking though. I will lower my expectations a bit in that department when I read it. 🙂

    • It’s still good, but don’t count on it being emotional or romantic. I hope you’ll enjoy it more than I did.

  • Adriana C

    I liked this book! the romance wasn´t great but I liked Oliver.