The sweet, slow building romance in “Emergency Contact,” by Mary H. K. Choy, is both heartwarming and humorous, twisting your heart in sync with the characters as their love grows. This isn’t just a romance though, it has humorous notes that you can’t help but laugh about.
Penny is a Korean-American girl who just wants to leave behind her immature mom, head off to college and make a life of her own. The book starts with Penny in a store buying a phone with her mom, which is a totally real and awkward situation that I could easily picture. Her mother’s tight clothes, the man she was flirting with, and the awkwardness created when some people might think your mom is your sister.
With her new phone in hand, Penny soon makes her way to college, her mom bawling her eyes out as Penny drives away. For Penny, feelings are a thing to be squandered and forgotten. She likes almond milk, is lactose intolerant, and hoards her emotions deep inside her, very typical of teenagers.
Penny’s also normal in a not-normal way. She guards the truth that her mother is cool, since she doesn’t consider herself “cool” like her mother. So when Penny moves into her dorm and meets a younger version of her mom, she gets a little exasperated, but her living there lets her have a chance encounter with Sam.
Sam is a German-Polish “white dude” who works a bakery, and, ironically, is covered with tattoos. Not really a tough-guy, Sam loves baking more than anything, but he especially loves baking pies. Insert the crazy, lying, beautiful ex-girlfriend and complications ensue. When Sam has a panic attack in the hundred degree heat and Penny is the only one to save him, they become each others emergency contacts, though not many of their conversations are really emergencies, maybe more emotional emergency contacts.
They soon learn almost everything about each other, never putting down their phones, even when they are *Gasp* pooping! That’s actually quite a funny moment in the book. When they really start having feelings for each other, neither one knows what to do.
This story so unique and awkward in an undeniable way, introducing characters that aren’t typical in most realistic novels. I love Penny and her sardonic thoughts, and the gruff exterior of Sam, just really a big sweetheart. I really enjoyed “Emergency Contact” and recommend it to anyone who’s looking for some love, honor, and emotional depth.