emergency contact – mary h.k. choi | review + discussion


Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
Published March 27th 2018 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: romance, contemporary, young adult

links: Goodreads

rating: ★★★★½


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.


I received the review copy from Pansing. This book is available at all good bookstores. Kinokuniya | Popular


Throughout Emergency Contact, we read about how the lives of the two main characters – Sam and Penny – are similar yet different. Both of them have difficult relationships with their respective mothers and low self-esteem but most importantly, they have doubts about their ability in achieving their aspirations.

Sam have been working towards being a filmmaker while Penny wants to be a writer. In fear of rejection, they’ve never really shown other people their works.

I went into the book thinking that it would be a light-hearted rom-com but it was far more than that.

As an Asian, it was so inspiring and motivating to read about an Asian character written and created by an Asian writer. For so many years I’ve been reading YA novels published by White authors about White characters (not that there’s anything wrong with that but there’s much more to the world) but things are changing and I’m seeing how books like this one are pushing these changes.

Even in Emergency Contact, there were current real world issues of the writing industry. Topics on #ownvoices novels, whether diverse authors should only write about diverse characters and authors writing only about white people rather than people of color. Not only that, Mary H.K. Choi included topics about immigrants and the Dreamers which are issues currently debated in America.

The slow burn relationship between Penny and Sam was satisfying. It made their friendship and attraction genuine. The two of them complimented each other well. Overall, I really liked Emergency Contact. It was full of colors and ideas and wacky characters. The banter between Penny and Sam were amusing. Mary H.K. Choi‘s writing was easy to get into.

Also, loved that Penny and her mother had a laminated photo of Rain in their house. LOL.

that’s the end of the non-spoiler section! I had so much fun reading Emergency Contact. let me know what you think about the book if you read it!


the possibility of jude liking sam is weird. technically, they aren’t cousins anymore (and not related by blood at all) but it’s still weird. mallory was such a bitch at first, she was annoying me so much but i admire her loyalty and protectiveness to jude.


mallory’s attitude seemed mild after lola was introduced. lola told sam that she’s pregnant but hasn’t gone for a proper hospital check yet and didn’t for weeks because she kept finding excuses to postpone. but wtf, i didn’t expect her to ghost sam with her ghost baby!!? she totally “forgot” to tell him that she wasn’t pregnant (while he was freaking out about having to take care of a baby despite his current predicament) and chose the “most convenient” time to tell him because YOU WERE GETTING A HAIR CUT (or whatever, wasn’t paying much attention cause i was fuming) NEAR THE COFFEE SHOP?! not to mention, he broke up with you cause you BLOODY CHEATED! how dare you act high and mighty, huh!

(sorry, getting a little carried away)

emergency contact turned out to be a more serious book than i thought. it took so much from me when penny revealed she was raped by the guy but she never shouted for her mother who was upstairs. it was totally unexpected and i was just heartbroken.

poor penny, things were getting better between jude, mallory and her but things just had to go wrong. jude finds out that penny had been meeting sam but didn’t tell her in fear of offending her. but sooner better than later i guess.

i didn’t see celeste as a motherly figure at all, not once. she brought penny up and paid for her expenses to her best capabilities but the lack of communication with penny was the thing that drove them apart (it happened because of the rape amongst other things). since penny never told her and she didn’t know why, they grew apart and hid their feelings. but i was so glad they cleared the air.

to witness penny openly say “I love you” to her mother was a wonderful scene and a great progress for penny. she’s someone who doesn’t show her emotions to anyone, especially when it comes to love.

btw, mark is a sleaze bag.

the anima story wasn’t relatable to me. or maybe cause i normally can’t get into a story within a story.



“Loving someone was traumatizing. You never knew what would happen to them out there in the world. Everything precious was also vulnerable.”


4 thoughts on “emergency contact – mary h.k. choi | review + discussion”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s