Emergency Contact (Hardcover)
“Smart and funny, with characters so real and vulnerable, you want to send them care packages. I loved this book.” —Rainbow Rowell
From debut author Mary H.K. Choi comes a compulsively readable novel that shows young love in all its awkward glory—perfect for fans of Eleanor & Park and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
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.
About the Author
Mary H.K. Choi is a writer for The New York Times, GQ, Wired, and The Atlantic. She has written comics for Marvel and DC, as well as a collection of essays called Oh, Never Mind. She is the host of Hey, Cool Job!, a podcast about jobs, and is a culture correspondent for VICE News Tonight on HBO. She is the author of the YA novels Emergency Contact and Permanent Record. Mary grew up in Hong Kong and Texas and now lives in New York. Follow her on Twitter at @ChoitotheWorld.
“Mary H.K Choi’s Emergency Contact is one of the best debuts of the year and one of the first YA novels to really capture the depth and complexities of a text-based relationship.”
* "Choi sensitively shows the evolution of two lonely, complicated people who slowly emerge from their shells to risk an intimate relationship. Her sharp wit and skillful character development...ensure that readers will feel that they know Penny and Sam inside and out before the gratifying conclusion."
— Publisher's Weekly - starred review
"Smart and funny, with characters so real and vulnerable, you want to send them care packages. I loved this book."
— Rainbow Rowell, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fangirl
* "Choi creates an up-to-date and realistic contemporary romance by upending the love story trope....A highly recommended purchase for the teens who enjoy realistic relationship fiction. Recommended for fans of Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park."
— School Library Journal - starred review
"Readers will swoon over Emergency Contact. Choi has a knack for creating relatable characters, and this quirky, socially awkward love story will keep your cheeks rosy with every page....Emergency Contact is the perfect book for those who root for the underdog and believe that broken people can heal together."
— RT Book Reviews
"Blushingly tender and piquant...Choi... inserts timely issues like sexual assault, cultural appropriation and even DACA into her characters’ intimate conversations, but it is her examination of digital vs. F2F communication that feels the most immediate."
— The New York Times Book Review
"Readers who enjoyed the unorthodox evolution of romance in Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything (2015) will like this debut novel."
"Penny somehow broke down all my walls. Her tech became incidental and her voice endearing, and just like that, I was hooked. Even the texts feel very natural and elegantly woven into the narration.There is much more to both Sam and Penny than quirky character traits and witty repartee....While the story does traffic in the heart flutter of romance that is tantalizingly out of reach, its emotional core goes deep."
"Whip-smart, hilarious and poignant...Choi's prose is to be savored....Along with the biting wit and sharp observations, Choi's marvelous novel offers a perceptive exercise on the divide between digital and in-person communication - and how daunting it can be to 'escalate' to that face to face encounter."
— The Buffalo News
"A tender, texting-based teen romance."
— Entertainment Weekly
"The sweetest book I read this year."
"Emergency Contact is a sharp, funny, and adorable young-adult romance, but it’s also a pretty great story about two people living with differing levels of anxiety...you’ll relate to the characters in this book, and you’ll root for them, too."
— The Cut