I took a break from slogging my way though nonfiction and a bunch of other things, like writing (!), and read Emergency Contact Mary H.K. Choi. This was prompted by my need to read something that was 1. just going to be fun and also bring me some joy from the frustration I’d been experiencing at the gym (note: I read this over the summer when things were still bad, more on later) and 2. This passage that I saw posted somewhere on Twitter right after it came out.
It punched me in the feels and really tapped into my eternally teenage soul, especially the Penny’s fear of not having Sam in her life, should they pursue romantically and it not work out. Who hasn’t had that fear? My entire last relationship seemed to rest on a foundation built on that fear.
Heart aching quote aside, the story itself revolves around Penny and her life post high school at university within driving distance from her hometown. Her old life was lackluster and college presents an opportunity for reinvention. This is something I strongly identified with. Even though my university was only a half hour drive from home, I still moved in to the dorms because I wanted to totally immerse myself in college and it marked the first opportunity i had to truly come into me own, without being pigeonholed into whatever I had to be in high school. Also, like Penny, I needed to get away from my mom. I love my mom so much but our relationship is very similar to that Penny shares with hers. Both pairings are made up of a fun, outgoing, and youthful woman that is mother to a quiet, sullen, sarcastic daughter. It was nice to see that time of relationship and how fraught it can be and see that I’m not the only that has felt this way.
Anyhow, the dorms. It’s through her roommate, Jude, that Penny meets Sam and through serendipity they end up each other’s emergency contact and develop a relationship based entirely on text messages with a a few in person meetings here and there. The text message exchange is the crux of the story and where most of the story takes place with each chapter alternating view points between the pair. I don’t want to give too much more away about the plot. It was just really nice for me to watch their relationship develop and see Penny grow. I also enjoyed being reminded of what getting to know someone was like at that age before cynicism and disillusionment with relationships set in.