Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Blog Tour: Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi - Review & Author Written Piece

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi 

Publishing Date: March 27, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 400
Young Adult Contemporary

The Premise from the Publisher: "For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind. Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other" (SS).

My overall thoughts and review: I absolutely loved this book and brace yourself for an incredibly swoony review. When I read the premise, I knew I had to have it; it was an instant add to my TBR.  I've been absolutely loving all the amazing YA that has come out recently with female Asian protagonists. This makes my heart swell, because finally, I can see myself in a story. This story is particularly special to me because I empathize so much with Penny in so many ways. The way that Penny and Sam meet is quite peculiar. She finds Sam having a panic attack on the side of the road and they exchange numbers and become each others Emergency Contacts. They begin talking and while the conversation is great, it inhabits the world of the cellphone only. I love how they come to navigate seeing each other in real life again and just getting to know one another. I loved their text messages so much and I really liked that it wasn't an insta-love narrative. I love relationships that are originally built on friendship first. 

Penny's relationship with her mother was one part of the story I really enjoyed. There's that moment where your parent becomes a friend, and that can always be difficult waters to navigate. I loved that their relationship wasn't perfect but they were able to find a happy compromise, and I especially liked how it wrapped up in the end with them coming to understand one another. Penny's relationship with her mother contrasts Sam's relationship with his mother, because Sam has such a difficult one with his mother. It's just bad and he comes from a terribly broken home. It was nice that despite his difficulties with his mother, he was able to find solace and an ally in Penny, and I'm so glad he was able to talk about his problems with her.

The book also takes place in college which I can definitely empathize with more. I remember being like Penny and having that weird moment of getting to know your roommate. I really liked Jude as a secondary character too. She was nice and quirky and I love just how much an effort she made constantly. I also really liked hearing about Penny's creative writing class and seeing her story unravel. The story she focused on was so strange with the Anima, but I loved how it was reflective of what she was dealing with in her own life.

The biggest takeaway for me was how to deal with toxic people in your life and this was the case for Sam. He had to learn to come to terms with how things were with Lorraine and how to deal with his mother. We often put ourselves in scenarios with people that simply aren't good for us time and time again, because of guilt, but also loneliness. I loved that this book touched on how despite being lonely, you don't have to settle. I also love that it touched on how relationships can change as well. In the beginning, I wasn't a huge fan of Mallory, but she definitely grew on me towards the end. This is by far my favorite book of this year. It had everything I love about young adult contemporary reads. It focused on family, friendship, and love, but with a heavy emphasis on loneliness. If you are a fan of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park, I definitely think you would enjoy this one! Please do yourself a favor and pick it up, you won't regret it (and also once you are done, please tweet at me so we can swoon over it).

My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)

Available for purchase at:
Chapters/Indigo, Kobo Books, Amazon, and Book Depository (Free Worldwide Shipping)

Author Written Piece
Topic/Question: If you could cast your book for a TV show or movie, who would you cast as the main characters and why?
OMG I love this game. Okay, had I my druthers, like total, pie-in-the-sky Emergency Contact would be a TV show. Preferably prestige TV since they’re into experimental formats. I particularly loved the way Netflix did End of the F**king world. The way it’s this chunk of story that would be a bit longer than a regular movie—that’s about the size of a BBC miniseries—where each episode is just a hacked off piece and a continuation of the last. I thought that was revolutionary and totally in keeping with how most of us binge-watch everything anyway.  
As for casting, the whole reason why I write and will continue to write is to incite conversations around the minorities I write about. Not to say that whatever this becomes will win an Oscar (ALTHOUGH WHO KNOWS) but the fact that zero Asian or Latinx actors were nominated this year does say something about the lack of representation so I hope inclusion riders continue to be a topic. 
But to answer your question (finally; sorry, I’m super longwinded as a human) another reason why I love TV is that there are so many gutsy decisions about casting too. Like I’d love if, whatever, a Timothée Chalamet would deign to play Sam alongside Kelly Marie Tran who crushed as Rose Tico in the Star Wars movies but I would be so pumped if we could find someone completely unheard of who’d get a chance to shine.  
Like, who’s the next Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things? Also, who’s to say that Sam has to be white? I’m obsessed with LaKeith Stanfield from Atlanta and Get Out and Steven Yuen from the Walking Dead, Mayhem and the upcoming Chew. This seems random but I’d also want Rich Brian, the rapper, to read for Sam as well. As for Penny there’s Anna Akana from YouTube Red’s Youth & Consequences who plays a mean girl but has a streak of sweetness in interviews but I’d love if Josephine Lee who’s a Korean model that’s Instagram famous as “Princess Gollum,” would give it a go. She has such a beguiling and particular energy that would be incredible for Penny and I’m convinced she can act. There’s also of course Nora Lum a.k.a. Awkwafina or Yaeji who’s an amazing Korean DJ and artist. There’s so much charisma and talent available if you wander outside the lines of expectation. I know we’d find someone amazing. I would also obviously have to executive produce because I can imagine people being like, Ugh, stop, pick a “real” actor to “attach” to the “project.” I’d have to be hanging around with a scepter, gavel and itchy Instagram finger to make sure things don’t get too predictable and safe. 
Thank you so much, Mary, for stopping by and answering this question. I would totally love to see Timothée as Sam and Kelly Marie as Penny. But overall, I just want this book to be optioned for a TV show or movie! ;) 

Be sure to stop by the other stops on the blog tour for more content about #EmergencyContact and for tomorrow's post for a chance to win a copy of the book! 

Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Simon and Schuster Canada for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own.

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