Review – Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

This YA contemporary with its amazing cover has been on my to-read-list for a while. Ever since I saw it on a booktube channel and heard the gush, but guiltily I just wanted to read it because of the cover 🙂

This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review. Thank you.

Emergency Contact

by Mary H.K. Choi

Synopsis by NetGalley / GoodReads

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 non-event. 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 million 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 bank 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.

My Opinion


  • the cuteness
  • diversity
  • how the main characters were on the lower aspects of the economic ladder but with contrasting character as side-kicks.


This was cute. Though I felt a bit weird in the beginning it picked up quickly. The whole setting with Penny and Mark situation was too close to home #almostcringe.

I love the characters and them not being the standard romance character types. Sam is skinny poor and covered in mix and match tattoos. Penny is nerdy, an author and college student.

I also liked who it dabbles in everyday life like everyday racism, everyday sexism and economic status (low end – relatable end)

It is also fairly feministic which I liked. its a new thing for me in YA contemporary.

The Story

The story starts off with Penny and introduces her relationship with her mother and with her boyfriend before sending her off to college. Already is clear she has no social network but she doesn’t lack social skills.

Then the story introduces Sam and his situation and his network. After this the chapter goes back and forth between the two narrations and it’s easy to tell who is speaking as the chapter name is the character name.

The story then intertwines the two characters tighter and tighter together. They have a lot in common. Both characters are on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum with single parents and a mum-issue. they both wear black and sneakers.

Due to a minor emergency Penny becomes Sam’s unofficial emergency contact and they start to check in with each other daily. I loved this aspect of getting two characters together – a minor emergency, its the best way.


Penny – Korean main character who is sarky and slightly emo with no social life to speak of. Perfectly normal in my eyes. She might be a bit emo but she has a way of playing with the in-crowd. She knows how to talk the talk, but don’t always use it. I loved how she makes lists in her head when she has reached a situation she is unsure how to handle. They usually go from a lot of effort to no effort. I do the same sometimes.

Sam – the baker of cakes and pastries. He is slightly depressed with a substance abuse past trying to make something of himself. He really wants to do documentary films but his liar ex comes back into the picture with bad news. Sam is the one with the minor emergency and Penny finds his by accident to help.

I really liked both characters and I can’t seem to choose a favorite…


not the focus and not mentioned.


The writing is funny and short with good metaphors but not overcrowded with them.

In the beginning I felt it jumped around a bit but I got my bearings after a few chapters and didn’t have the problem again.

I also really like the weighing options lists which are written for Penny. I liked the insight to her thoughts.

I liked how the text was written in the e-ARC/e-book. sometimes the formatting goes off in the eBook, but not here. It’s displayed easily and logically with time frames where needed.


This was such a cute (no cringe) book! I loved the writing, the story and the character and I just wanted happiness for them all.

I will pick up other books by Mary H. K. Choi after this. I know she has another book out in the states and maybe I can get my hands on that here in the UK.

Have you read this? What did you think?

One thought on “Review – Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

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