Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway – 5 Star Review

June 29, 2015 Reviews 11 ★★★★★

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway – 5 Star ReviewEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Published by HarperTeen on 6/23/15
Genres: Family, LGBTQ+, Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Source: Edelweiss
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing; Alcohol consumption; LGBT characters)
My rating:
5 Stars

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

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My Take

This book was so much more than I expected it to be! Okay, for some reason I didn’t go back and reread the synopsis before I picked this one up. I just noticed that a lot of people I trust (I’m talking to you, Shannon at It Starts at Midnight) had loved it and realized that it had just been released, so I decided to go for it. All I remembered was that it was a romance between two people named Emmy and Oliver (you see how perceptive I can be!). Well, it was a romance, but it was so much MORE! This book had me feeling everything and I am definitely in love!

So, in case you’re like me and you didn’t read the synopsis very well. Oliver was kidnapped by his father when he was seven. His kidnapping has a profound effect on not only his mother, but also on the other people who were close to them. Emmy had a crush on Oliver (albeit  a seven-year-old kind of crush) and she has never been able to let him go because his disappearance has affected her life so profoundly. When Oliver returns, ten years later, no one knows quite how to act or what to feel. His return isn’t completely joyful and triumphant – instead it’s messy and real.

 What I LOVED:

  • The complexities of the premise. I remember, when I was younger, being fascinated by one of those made for TV movies about a girl who sees herself on a milk bottle and finds out that she was kidnapped. She had lived this happy life, never knowing that there were people out there in the world grieving for her. Well, Oliver’s story is very similar. His perspective of the world and the perspective of the people in his home town are completely at odds. He spent his life thinking that his mom had left him. He loved his father, was really close to him. So when he’s finally returned “home,” he’s a bit lost and he doesn’t know what to think about the situation. All of these people have hopes and dreams and fears and sorrows associated with him, and he doesn’t quite know how to live up to all of that – or if he wants to. He’s a different person than he was when he left when he was seven. There was just so much depth to Oliver’s story and the complexities of his situation were portrayed beautifully.
  • The impact of a singular event. A huge part of this story was how Oliver’s disappearance affected other people, not just his isolated family. Emmy’s family was impacted very nearly as much as Oliver’s was because they were so close to Oliver’s mom when it happened. Emmy and her friends actually saw Oliver being abducted (without knowing it at the time, of course) and they were forever changed by that. Their little town was inundated with police and press and, even after the initial fervor went away, the constant vigilance – the hope that he would  return – never went away. Emmy and her family watched Oliver’s mom break down completely and spend years of her life in pain – and hoping beyond hope that she would be reunited with her son. Suddenly, the world was changed. It was a place where villains actually existed and children disappeared right there in front of the school. It was no longer a safe place, and that had a huge impact on Emmy and her family.
  • Emmy’s family. Like I mentioned above, Emmy’s relationship with her parents was shaped by Oliver’s disappearance. After he was kidnapped, they became vigilant and overprotective. Emmy’s sheltered life was a major focus of the book – and her relationship with her parents was, again, very complex. There was both an intense love there (you couldn’t help but adore her mom and dad because they were amazing and fun – and Emmy obviously adored them too) and a sense of resentment because Emmy needed the freedom to discover who she truly was, outside of her parents. This was a major theme of the book – again, how so many people were still living under the shadow of an even that had happened ten years ago and how they dealt with it.
  • Friendships. Emmy’s friendships with Caro and Drew were a highlight of the book. These secondary characters were as well-drawn as Emmy and Oliver themselves, and Emmy’s relationships with them were front and center. Both Drew and Caro had their own stories, which were woven into the fabric of the main plot – and they never really felt secondary at all.
  • The romance. I mention this last for a reason. Yes, the romance is a major factor in the book, but honestly, this book was not about the romance. Don’t get me wrong – readers who love a good romance will be more than satisfied with this book. Emmy and Oliver are sweet together, but it’s really their emotional journeys (both together and separate) that take center stage here.

The negatives:

  • Almost nothing. The only negative I can think of is that I did find it somewhat convenient at first that Emmy and Oliver clicked as well at seventeen as they did at seven. But this was really a tiny thing that I felt for a very short time because one of the major points of the story was that Emmy and Oliver were different people now and that any expectations of picking up where they’d left off were nearly impossible.

This book made me laugh (especially in moments between Emmy and her friends and her parents) and it made me cry. I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked the book up, but what I got was so much MORE! I easily give this book 5/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

About Robin Benway:

Robin Benway

I’m the author of “Audrey, Wait!”, “The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June”, and the AKA series. My latest book “Emmy & Oliver” will be released on June 23, 2015. I live in Los Angeles with my extremely stubborn shih tzu, Hudson. I like cooking, puppies, and coffee, but not in that order. We should be friends.


Author Links:
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11 Responses to “Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway – 5 Star Review”

  1. Zed

    I loved this book too, Emmy is hilarious! And her friends made me laugh so much..

  2. jazmen

    Okay, yeah. I’m pulling this book out next. I don’t think I read a review under five stars yet. Your review has me all excited to read it. Great review!

  3. Wendy

    I was so tensing myself up for soppy romance with this one, and it had so much more to offer! I also appreciated that even though Emmy’s parents (or Oliver’s mom) were imperfect, their love and effort to do the right thing were never questioned. So rare in YA lit to have present and caring parents.

    Oh, and the movie you saw must have been based on Caroline Cooney’s The Face on the Milk Carton–a pretty good MG thriller. It actually has a sequel that explores what happens after the girl is returned home too.

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  4. Debbie

    I’ve heard such great things about this book and the blurb really has me intrigued! I love kidnapping and returning stories (All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry is an amazing one that comes to mind) and so as soon as I had discovered this book I knew I wanted to read it. The only thing that has me doubting it is the fact that Emmy who had a crush on Oliver when she was 7 hasn’t been able to let go of this childhood crush. I guess a kidnapping could really stay with a child and perhaps this is why he has been in her hear all this time?

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