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BOOK REVIEW: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

| 13 June 2015 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

HarperTeen
June 2015
Hardcover, $17.99
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli

8/10

Emmy & Oliver

We stayed and looked and waited for him to come back, as if our love was a beacon that he could use to light his way home, to crawl up the sides of the earth and back through his front door, his tag still sticking up in the back.

Emmy & Oliver exceeded all expectations. Although it may seem like this is a romance, the truth is it’s actually about friendship, family, growing up and rekindling that long-lost relationship that was horribly ripped away by one selfish man.

When Oliver was seven, his father kidnapped him and they disappeared. For ten years, the town has tried to move on with their lives, but parents are still weary — especially Emmy’s. With a tight curfew and supervision, Emmy feels trapped in a place she calls home, unable to do the things she loves. Every year, the tip-line collects another sighting of Oliver, another picture on the Internet. His childhood photo is changed to give people an idea of what he’s supposed to look like now.

People still hope, even when they know they should stop.

After a while, though, after years passed and pictures changed and false tips fell through, it started to feel like the beacon wasn’t for him anymore. It was for those of us left behind, something to cling to when you realized that scary things could happen, that villains didn’t only exist in books, that Oliver might never come home.
Until one day, he did.

And then, one day, Oliver is found.

Benway made his return and the actions that came after incredibly realistic. It wasn’t a happy-ever-after straight away. Oliver had to recreate a new life with a mother he couldn’t remember, in a town he couldn’t recall, with people he doesn’t remember seeing. It was a slow process, and Emmy felt as if Oliver was truly lost forever, even when he was standing right in front of her.

I wanted the neighbors to mind their own business and to my complete horror, I realized I wanted Oliver to go back to New York. His disappearance had created such a huge chasm that it still hadn’t fully repaired itself, and I didn’t know if I was ready to have it ripped open all over again. As terrible as the past ten years had been, they were familiar. I wasn’t sure I was ready to trade them in for a brand-new set of issues and worries.

Although Emmy and Oliver were childhood best friends, his disappearance destroyed any chance for a future relationship or friendship. They’re strangers to each other, and so they need to get to know each other all over again. It was wonderfully done, and incredibly engaging. The reader is drawn into their burgeoning friendship, to the way Oliver struggles to call his hometown “home” and how, even though he knows what his father did was wrong, he can’t hate him for it. Because his father, even though he kidnapped Oliver, had been a father to him, anyway. Lies and deception had made Oliver stop wanting his mother, but he gained a father, and Oliver can’t forget it.

A disappearance that impacted the whole town, those who struggle the most are those who were closest to him: Emmy and her family and, most importantly, Oliver’s mother. Emmy & Oliver shows how difficult it is for his mother to have found her long-lost son, and to have no idea of who he really is anymore.

“Coming home feels like being kidnapped all over again.”

Emmy & Oliver is not a romance. Don’t let the cover deceive you. It’s a story about love, friendship, family and finding out who you are in a world that dictates who you should be. As the story progresses, more pieces fall into place, more secrets come to life and Oliver must decide whether he should help catch his father, or let him go.

“I don’t want you to lie to me. You never lied to me before. Don’t start now.”
“It’s just, it just feels the same.” he shrugged, tipping his head to the sky like the stars had advice to offer him. “I got taken away from everything I knew, my friends, my dad, our apartment, homeschooling, and now I’m in a new house with sisters — I have
sisters, Emmy, I don’t even know what to say about that — and a mom I don’t know and a stepdad I’ve never known, new friends, new school. And this house just feels so small, like the walls are touching sometimes when I sleep, and this town…”

I adored this book, and everything it had to offer. It exceeded my expectations, made me laugh, made me cry and made me see all the different sides to the story through Emmy’s eyes. I would recommend this to fans of Sarah Dessen.

Aly Locatelli

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

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