Reviews

Emergency Contact, by Mary H.K. Choi

_cynthu15's review against another edition

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sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75

eve_mca1's review against another edition

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emotional funny lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

jewelathompson's review against another edition

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2.0

I met Mary H.K. Choi two years ago and she was a lovely person, I just happened to not like her book. I think she probably makes a great feature writer, but sometimes different types of writing don't translate. You can be a great copywriter and then suck a fiction. I think Choi has a lot of developing to do with her fiction before it's any good.

I didn't hate this book, but my feelings toward it are so lackluster that writing this review almost seems pointless. To say it simply, Emergency Contact tries to be something it isn't. It tries to be introspective with its characters but fails to paint a solid and engaging relationship between Penny and Sam.

A large portion of the book focuses on Penny and her mom's complicated relationship that isn't even complicated at all: Penny simply hates her mom. I, personally, could not get behind this vapid, onesided disgust that Penny had toward Celeste. It would have been different if their relationship was more complex, but Choi failed to make their relationship interesting. Slut-shaming your mom doesn't make you a feminist Penny Lee.

Easy two stars for this book. I have a copy of it so if you'd like to read it, someone can take it off my hands. The cover is really pretty and probably the main reason I bought it.

pippindots's review against another edition

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5.0

Potential trigger warnings to be aware of:
Spoileralcoholism, parental neglect, flashbacks that illustrate a fairly toxic and unhealthy relationship, and a recounting of rape that drops with 0 warning about 70% into the book; it's not a graphic description, but is a recounting from the victim's perspective (who was underage at the time) and is detailed and introspective enough to possibly be triggering.


4.5 stars, rounded up thanks to the post-read rosy goggles this book left me seeing things through.

Not perfect by any means. The start left me a little unconvinced, and the author faked me out with a series of almost-but-not-quite plot turns and tropes that I was worried were going to ruin my enjoyment of Penny and Sam's easy chemistry. But at the end of the day (and I did read this in a day) this ended up being the cutest shit I've read all year.

I mean, it also helped that both Sam and Penny were painfully relatable characters in their own rights, both from points of their inner voices and personal experiences. The Austin (and sometimes New Braunfels-adjacent) setting was an additional treat that made me reminisce fondly on my time living in San Antonio. The name drops of certain Purely Texan establishments, like Jim's and Taco Cabana, had me grinning almost as much as Sam and Penny's ridiculous text conversations.

And not to make things deeper than they need to be, but there was a certain unpolished Realism to Emergency Contact that I appreciated. Both Sam and Penny are kind of assholes sometimes--honestly, everyone in this book is kind of an asshole sometimes, but I liked that neither of them were these entirely blameless woobified cherubs, and that while they both suffered legitimate unfairness and hurt in their respective lives, they were written as legitimately flawed people who had their own shit to work through as well. And things didn't just magically tie into neat little bows of convenience just in time for the Big Confession. Some of their problems were solved by the end of the book, and some weren't. Emergency Contact wasn't a book about life-altering earthquakes; it was about complications and connections and the little shakes that change your life every day.
SpoilerThe ending felt very satisfying, because it was good and happy, but also felt entirely attainable. I love a good, saccharine wish-fulfillment romance as much as the next person, but this slightly more subdued conclusion was exactly what I needed right now.


Anyway, tl;dr: Emergency Contact was cute as hell, and if you're looking for a feel-good romcom, I highly recommend it. Because I know I'll be rereading it soon enough.

savvyshelves's review against another edition

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5.0

I've said it a million times before I don't love standalone books because I always want more. This one though. Perfection. It was going to be a 4 star up until the last few hundred pages because I connected with Penny so well, I almost cried during the last few chapters. Definitely more of a realistic romance than 3/4 of YA romance.

Also, you know when an author pours their soul into their character(s)? As if a piece of them is in the MC? I felt that with Mary H.K.Choi and Penny and I absolutely ADORED it.

10zypamo's review against another edition

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emotional lighthearted tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

I'm usually not one for romance stories but this was a decent read. The story was not too slow and built up with each chapter. The narration from each of the protagonists perspective made it all the more worthwhile. It helped make sense of their personalities while also divulging more. What I liked the most was how it ended. Yes, it was a more or less happy ending but it wasn't like an ultimate in your face happy ever after. In other words it seemed believable as they accepted their feelings for each other while also making amends with their other close relationships. 

whatuwantangie's review against another edition

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emotional lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.5

ivxjayy's review against another edition

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emotional funny lighthearted sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

soupstix's review against another edition

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funny hopeful reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

this was a weird read for me because so many elements hit so close to home while also being, like, three inches to the left. in a weird way, celeste reminded me a fair bit of my mom, albeit trendier and hotter and with a wider social circle. i usually love stories that revolve around mother-daughter relationships especially when it comes to asian-americans—especially especially asian-americans in texas because that’s a funky little thing i love seeing represented. i’m also a judgmental bitch like penny, so that definitely upped the relatability factor. and i liked how penny being korean was important to her identity without it being a central focus of the novel. that said, while i enjoyed this story a fair amount, i just didn’t LOVE it.

i thought the characters were interesting. i surprisingly enjoyed the “story-within-a-story,” which i did not expect because those usually make me eye roll or confuse the shit out of me. like, watchmen’s iteration of that with the pirate story—which penny references—was a huge miss for me. i’m also not usually much a fan of reading about writers? it always feels a little too meta for me, or honestly pretty bland because it makes me start thinking about my life in a much too direct and immediate way for my taste. so i think that significantly impacted my overall opinion of this novel.

i liked sam. his relationship with lorraine felt a little half-baked to me, though, so it felt like his unplanned pregnancy storyline got dropped in a really awkward spot that sorta left him with nothing else to do while penny was sorting out her own issues. it started feeling like the author was juggling a bit too much, and had to drop something to keep everything else going smoothly. 

i loved the last few chapters where penny has all those interactions with jude and mallory and andy, plus all the mom stuff. it really made getting through the entire beginning of this book feel worthwhile.

i’m came to “emergency contact” from “yolk,” so i feel like choi hasn’t fully realized her capabilities as a writer, which probably detracted from my enjoyment of this (especially since i adored yolk so much. absolutely my new favorite book). but i just love choi’s prose so much. it’s so snarky and fun to read, a style i’d both love to emulate but also don’t think i could ever quite pull off. so overall i had a good time. i just wasn’t blown away.

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p0tat0's review against another edition

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5.0

I loved this book. A great romance for those of us who don't identify as "romance readers." Also those of us who prefer the intimacy/safety of text versus IRL conversations.