So, scootsa1000 reviewed this book two months ago, and she could’ve just said, “Hey, Rainbow Rowell says this is the best book she read last year.” That would’ve been enough to get me to read Emergency Contact.
Instead, she went on to give a really good review of the book. I suggest reading it.
Penny is a freshman in college, and I don’t think she’s ever looked forward to anything in her life as much as she has getting away from her mother, her high school, and her boyfriend. She’s a little odd, and definitely on the goth side. Through her roommate, Jude, she meets Sam, a young man a few years older than her. He’s very skinny, has unruly hair, tattoos, and Penny finds him absolutely beautiful.
I’m not going to get too deeply into the plot. This is a young adult romance. There aren’t a bunch of crazy left-hand turns here. Plus, I just re-read scootsa1000’s review. I feel like anything I write at this point is just going to be a poor imitation of what she’s already written.
I think this book is right up the alley of a lot of the reviewers on this site. It’s sweet, whimsical, and pretty unapologetic about its pop-cultural references. I felt like the characters were authentic: moody, a little self-involved and struggling with anxiety, self-doubt, and a healthy dose of hormones.
Surprisingly, to me, there are a number of fairly negative reviews on Goodreads. One reviewer complained that Penny “slut shamed” her mother, and found that offensive. Others made a lot of vague complaints about how the characters were racist, or that the book was “triggering”, or that the characters (especially Penny) didn’t talk like real people.
I don’t know. I listened to the audiobook of this, and felt that the narrators did a really good job conveying a drollness to the characters that made the “unrealistic dialogue” more palatable. But I can at least see how it might come off as annoying if you’re just reading the book.
As to the charges of racism, stereotypes, or “triggering” (not really even sure what this means), I wonder if we even read the same book. I mean, this book does touch on sexual assault – and I can obviously see how that could trigger someone. But I think it’s handled respectfully. It doesn’t feel, to me, at least, exploitative or insensitive. As to anything else….I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not calibrated to pick up on whatever these people are picking up on – but I didn’t really see much in the way of explanation, so it’s hard to take those charges seriously.
So, the complaints against this book, from what little I saw, didn’t seem to amount to much. I think it was charming, and can see why Rainbow Rowell rates it so highly (though I don’t think I’d call it my favorite book published in 2018). I highly recommend it.