Books

Emmy & Oliver, by Robin Benway

5 stars. This is probably the cutest, nicest book I’ve read in a while. 

The Blurb: 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.

I’ve been rating a lot of books 5 stars recently, not because I’m easy to please(which I kind of am) but because I’ve just been reading really good books lately. However, Emmy & Oliver truly touched me, in more ways than one.

First, I’d like to start out by saying that this isn’t entirely a romance novel. The blurb screams romance, but it’s a lot more self-discovery than romance. All the characters, including side characters grow and develop more then they typically do in an typical romance novel, but I’ll get to all that in a minute.

Emmy & Oliver is told from the point of view of Emmy, who is dealing with the return of her childhood friend after his father kidnapped him for ten years. This premise, although welcome in the land of Aliza’s Booktopia, is not 100% unique, so the direction Benway took it was crucial for me to like it. Luckily, I was not disappointed. While slow plot-wise, the character development is phenomenal, every character grows in some way, but I’ll get to that later.

Regarding the plot itself, it’s not fast, as I mentioned before, but powerful nevertheless. Realistic fiction often focuses on the characters, like this book does, and the small moments described in such detail enhanced the characters, which are the star of the story, not the plot. Minor interactions play a big role(and are totally adorable), which made me feel like I was truly experiencing this story with Emmy and Oliver, and made me love them all the more.

Character-wise, if it’s not apparent already, Benway does an excellent job, one of the best I’ve seen in a while. Oliver is wonderfully written, with his inner struggles, obviously, but what surprised me was how much I ended up liking Emmy. This is not your typical heroine that spends all her time fawning over a hot guy. Her struggles with her over-controlling parents, while not as dramatic as the whole dad-kidnapping-you-for-ten-years thing, makes her very much three-dimensional and honestly, more relatable to all us average people living today. I’m also very happy with the way things turned out for her. 😊

Emmy’s best friends, Drew and Caro, I absolutely loved. They were hilarious, adorable, and had plenty of character growth as well, which is surprising considering the fact that the story doesn’t even revolve around them. Even if you hate the rest of the book, these two make it worth reading.

The only complaint I think anyone would have is Emmy & Oliver‘s cliche-ness. I wasn’t bothered by the fact that this premise has been done many times, as this book is well written, but I can see where that might be a problem for some others. I highly recommend you to read this book, but only if you don’t mind a slow romance novel.

Overall, I feel that Emmy & Oliver is not only a romance novel, but also a beautiful coming-of-age story. It’s adorable and sweet, and sure to leave a smile on your face. I thoroughly enjoyed it, so much that I’m now going to spend the next few hours googling what Benway’s writing next so I can read it. 😉

~Aliza

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