Emmy & Oliver: A Book Review

Posted July 23, 2015 by Carlisa in Book Reviews / 6 Comments

Emmy & Oliver: A Book ReviewEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Published by HarperTeen on June 23, 2015
Genres: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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

This book has received a lot of hype in the last month or so. Basically I was prepared for a very cute and adorable story of a girl and boy named Emmy and Oliver. What I didn’t expect is for this book to have a lot of deeper issues underneath the cute adorableness of it (of which there was plenty). With a very Sarah Dessen-esque feel, Emmy & Oliver captures young love despite some…extenuating circumstances. 

First of all, let’s just talk about the two main characters: Emmy and Oliver. Emmy and Oliver grew up next-door neighbors and best friends…until Oliver’s father kidnapped him when he was 7 years old. For ten years, no one knew where he was or what he was doing. But Emmy has always held on to the hope that her best friend would one day come home. And then…he did. And he comes back and they have to face the facts that he isn’t the same kid he was 10 years ago. He had a life, he had friends…While Emmy thought about him everyday, he barely remembered her at all. That’s one thing I liked about this book. It was some romanticized thing where Oliver comes back and they immediately fall into each other’s arms declaring their love for each other. It took time and it felt like a natural progression instead of a forced relationship. As they both struggle to come to terms with all that life has thrown at them, they start to rely on each other. They grow from each other, and those are the best kinds of relationships. 

And Emmy (the narrator) just feels so realistic. Her voice reminded me of Cath from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. Not necessarily that they’re similar people, because they’re not. But the voice. Emmy’s voice is really relatable and real and I just loved her. She has a bunch of parenthetical statements (this is a parenthetical statement right here, just in case you didn’t know) that are hilarious. I feel like they’re just these little asides to the reader. Like this one:

“I had checked my phone the minute I woke up, waiting to see a text or missed call or something from him, but I just had junk emails from SAT prep programs and a few ‘Don’t you want to apply HERE?’ colleges. (Those colleges were like clingy boyfriends or girlfriends. No one wants to go to school there when they’re so desperate to get people to do just that. They needed to start playing hard to get, I thought, or no one was going to ask them to prom.)”

Lol. They’re just these small moments randomly dispersed throughout the book and they made me feel closer to Emmy as a character and a person. I just wanted to be her best friend.

Also let’s talk about the moment when I realized why Emmy & Oliver is called Emmy & Oliver. You might be thinking: Carlisa, it’s about a girl and a boy named Emmy and Oliver. Of course that’s the title. That’s what I thought, too. Until I read this line about two thirds of the way through:

“My dad set down his food, too, then hopped up on the counter next to me. ‘So. You and Oliver.’
I looked up at him, surprised. ‘Me,’ I said. ‘And Oliver.’
‘Those are two very different sentences, Emmy.'”

I read that and it really struck me. Emmy and Oliver have made it through a lot…and even though they were apart for 10 ten years. They’re in it together, you know? Emmy and Oliver. Emmy & Oliver. Also, I have this strange affinity for ampersands (&) so there’s that.

And their relationship was just super cute. Of course. They have a real chemistry and I loved to see it. And I was reading it at work one day just sitting there smiling like a fool. Emmy at one point says, “I might die of adorableness” and quite literally, that’s the entire book summed up into one sentence.

BUT there were much deeper topics throughout the book as well. This book, while pretty fluffy, is not purely fluff. It has substance. It really, really does. Without going too far into it, let me just list some of the messages portrayed throughout its pages:

  • Friends matter. And it’s easiest to take your friends for granted…but they’re not always going to be there. So take advantage of them while you have them here and don’t just forget about them. Also, I’m not talking about how 7-year-old Emmy took 7-year-old Oliver for granted. Different friendship I’m talking about here.
  • Sometimes things are complicated. Especially family things. It’s never just black and white. One side is right, one side is wrong. No. That’s not how it works. Relationships and family and friends–they’re all kinds of shades of gray (I kind of hate how I can’t say that without thinking of a certain erotica book…). There’s no line, no way to know for sure…But that’s just how it is. You have to take what’s there and just make it work. Take it for what it is: messy and complicated.
  • Don’t let fear hold you back.
  • People are who they are and that’s just wonderful. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to let it show. And if people care about you, they’ll love you all the same. And if they don’t react well…well, there are people who will.

Those are just a few. But it’s awesome. If I could rate it on the fluff-o-meter (with 0 being very heavy and serious to 10 IT’S SO FLUFFY fluffy)…it would probably be like a six or seven.

Okay here we go with some quotes:

Sometimes love isn’t something you say, it’s something you do.

Coming home is like being kidnapped all over again.

“Wait, wait!” I whispered. “Come here, your mouth.” [lol]

“Tonight sucked,” my dad said, and I started to laugh hearing him say that. “What?” He smiled at me. “Isn’t that the slang you kids are using? The lingo? Do I sound hip?”
I just shook my head. “The only hip I hear is the sound of yours breaking.” [Ohhhhhh burn. But seriously, I want to use this in real life]

“The only way I could describe what kissing him felt like was, like the last day of school, knowing that months of freedom and sunshine lay before you, the feeling that you could do anything you wanted and time stretched out in endless possibilities. That’s how I felt in his arms, like the future was limitless just because he was there. He was finally there.

So, all in all, I really loved this book. It was just perfect and if you’re a fan of Rainbow Rowell or Sarah Dessen, I think you’d really like this book, too.

On my island, you’d already be reading it. [Hint: You’d get this reference if you’ve read the book]



  • YAY! I’m so happy you loved this as well. I love reading everyone’s reviews for Emmy & Oliver because I just want to relive their adorable relationship over, and over again lol. I actually haven’t read anything by Sarah Dessen. You mentioning that Emmy & Oliver had a Sarah Dessen vibe makes me verrrrrry curious about her books.

    • My jaw just dropped to the floor because YOU HAVEN’T READ ANY SARAH DESSEN. I seriously love her, but I read my first book of her’s in 7th grade…so I have almost a nostalgic connection with them. But they’re just really good contemporaries.

  • I really want to check out this book; I’ve been hearing great things. Your review has made me want to read it even more. That’s so awesome that Emmy kind of reminded you of Cath. I loved her. 🙂 I also love that this book had some deeper topics. Great review!

    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

    • You definitely should read it! If you like Rowell or Dessen, you’d totally love this story and the characters.

  • I just read Benway’s “Also Known As” series, which would probably rank high on your fluff-o-meter. But the way her characters talk and interact with one another is so relatable and fun. Now I really want to read this book. Great post!

    • Fluffy books are sometimes exactly what I need and there’s nothing wrong with them. I’ve heard good things about that series so I’ll have to pick it up!