BOOK REVIEW: Emmy & Oliver by Robin BenwayEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
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Synopsis:

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 guess the more you start to love someone, the more you ache when they’re gone, and maybe it’s that middle ground that hurts the most, when you can see them and still not feel like you’re near enough. So close and yet so far.

Absolutely too cute for words. Deep, heartfelt, unforgettable.


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Sometimes I could slap myself for being so shortsighted. And, just to warn you, I’ll probably even say that on tomorrow’s review….I just have this mental block that prevents me from taking a risk, taking chances that might help me find some of the best stories ever-and this is one I almost missed out on.


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It’s pretty clear I poach all my ideas off Anna (well, 90% of them) and generally come out on top. I can tout and say it’s because I’m picky…well, hey, I really am…but a lot of my choices wouldn’t even exist without Anna saying, hey, check this one out. So, you know, this is my way of saying that, while I say I’m creative…I’m really not. And this book?? It was absolute perfection.
Sometimes there just aren’t enough words to fill the crack in your heart.


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When I read the blurb for this, I passed it up multiple times I guess I didn’t realize just how…difficult??…a story like this could be. It seemed simple enough-Boy gets taken by his father. Mother is devastated. Emmy and her friends are scarred for life, always waiting for him to return. Boy returns when he’s 17. Emmy and Oliver fall in love. Simple…right? Wrong.
Oliver looked up at me, his face solemn and pained, and I realized with a terrible rush we weren’t playing anymore. “Colleen,” he said, “coming home feels like being kidnapped all over again.”

 

If you were a kid and everything you knew was flipped around, your world titled on its axis, how would you react? Well, we don’t technically know. He was gone, stolen away from all those he cherished and loved. One can assume that he was confused and missed his mother and friends, only to eventually fall into a rhythm with his dad and delve into to his new life. So…I guess this leaves you wondering-If you were stripped of your life, everything you knew-not just once, but twice-how would you fare?


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And then Oliver blinked again and it was like a shutter went off in his own eyes so I could see the picture of the anger, the hurt, the embarrassment. It was a private viewing just for me, gone a second later when he blinked once more and his face smoothed back into its normal, passive shape.

And I think that’s the largest issue in this book-Finding your place, struggling to wrap your head around new people, leaving all you know behind..it’s actually so sad when you think about it. And I think that’s why I was so shocked-and yes, I was very shocked by the depth of this book. Even from page one, which hooked me instantly by the way, it seemed light and funny and sweet. And, even with the darkness that creeped into the story sometimes, there was no lack of heartfelt moments and hilarious banter. And hey! There was some cheese, I’ll admit it. Wonderful, yummy, happy velveeta cheese-But only the best kind of cheese.
“Those look painful,” Oliver commented, trying to avoid Caro digging her heel into his shoulder. “Why does everything you do look like it hurts?”
“Because!” Caro huffed with a final shove. “You guys want us to look natural and there’s nothing natural about looking natural.”
I could see the confusion cross Oliver’s face and stifled my own smile.
“Those shoes don’t look natural,” Oliver pointed out.
“Yes, but they’re three-inch heels, which make me look like I’m an average height of five five. See?” She explained. “Natural.”

 

Okay!! My favorite part-The relationship. Emmy was devastated by the disappearance of Oliver. She might have even taken it harder than most even realized. They were partners in crime, best friends…in like with one another. You know how kids are 😛 . So when he comes back with more height, a different head of hair, a new look to him, and a dark cloud hanging over his head…she realizes he’s not the little boy that left all those years ago.

 

“Oh, riiiiight,” I said, knocking myself in the head and grinning like an idiot. “I’m sorry, I totally forgot.”
“That’s okay,” he replied. “Just adds to my rebel image. New guy in school, mysterious past, being held back a grade.” He smiled at me. “Girls like it.”
“Really?”
“Oh yeah.” He smiled wider. “That’s why I’m eating lunch with all these people.”
I laughed despite myself and then he laughed, too, a familiar sound that I hadn’t heard in years. His laugh was deeper now, but still Oliver’s, as unique as a double helix. Or a fingerprint.

 

Emmy starts to reach out to him, this kid who made national news and is now a social outcast because of it. Alone more often than not, he’s feeling angry, dejected, depressed that he is being thrown back into a life everyone remembers but him-all his old friends, the inside jokes, the memories they shared. But as Emmy begins to integrate him into her life, and her two best friends’ lives (they used to be a foursome), he starts to smile, laugh, joke, live…and he’s beginning to ache for the ten years they all lost.
“Quick question,” Oliver said as he scanned the horizon. “What is the shark population like around here?”
I blinked at him. “Are you being serious right now?”
“I don’t know.” He laughed nervously. “No. Yes. Maybe? Sharks?”
I sighed. “There are no sharks here.”
“Do you mean ‘here’ as in the ‘Pacific Ocean’ or…?”


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I loved this cast of characters. They were so funny and realistic and you never felt like the conversations were fake or forced for the sake of being ‘hip’. This author made an authentic story with real conversations and real situations. I never once rolled my eyes or thought it was trying too hard. The friendships, the drama, the fights…they were so palpable I wanted to reach out and swirl my hand in their tangible depths. And, even more than that, I wanted to hug my poor little Oliver, who always felt lost and alone.
Tortured, lost, devastated, Oliver has never felt more alone. As he and Emmy become closer, we begin to see his playful side, his happy side-but he never quite knows what to do. His mom searched for him for years, and now she has him…in her new life. He doesn’t know where he fits and feels like he’s disrupting her-and everyone else’s-life. We see the emotional turmoil he goes through trying to find his place…and trying to sort through his lingering emotions of missing his dad, even when he knows he did something horribly wrong.
That’s when I first learned about true frustration, that wrenching ache when the thing that matters most to you barely makes a ripple in other people’s lives.


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This story is one that took me completely by surprise. It’s not because I didn’t think it would be good-from page one you could tell it would be fabulous-but I didn’t realize just how many emotions I-or they-would feel. I started this book during a terrible week. And even at the worst of times, I’d pick this up and would immediately get butterflies, smile like a loon, and start laughing in the quiet of night-disturbing hubbs repeatedly. This book is wonderful, one to truly cherish and never forget. WHEN I get the hardback, I’m going to hug it close…and be all creepy and snuggle with it. Whoops. I only hope that others will give this fantastic book a chance. I swear it will make you feel as light as air.

*Note: I have to say something I missed on the review: Oliver was always supportive for Emmy…no matter what. And he never got mad at her. He was so adorable and supportive. Anyway. Forgot that. Whoops again.

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