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.