As I’ve been reading through this year’s crop of award winners, I’ve been loving them so much they’ve been making me dig through my huuuuuuge pile of to-be-reads to find other, as-yet-unread-by-me books by the same authors. After devouring this year’s Printz winner, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, and immediately leaping to You Know Me Well by LaCour and co-author David Levithan, I was thirsty for more contemporary realistic reads with a ton of heart and all the feels. I decided to go with the National Book Award winner for young people’s literature, Far From the Tree by Robin Benway. Alas, it was checked out (#librarianproblems), but I remembered that I never got around to reading Benway’s Emmy & Oliver, so I grabbed that instead.
Why didn’t I read this when it came out in 2015?!?!!
Emmy and Oliver grew up together. They have the same birthday, they live next door to each other, they have a secret code for saying good night through their windows, and they’ve always shared everything – even birthday cake, because double birthdays mean double cake (you can see why I like them).
Until Oliver is kidnapped by his dad when he’s 7, and he’s just… gone.
Now Emmy is 17. Life has moved on, and it hasn’t. Emmy knows her parents would bubble wrap her if they could – part of it is being an only child, but most of it was watching Oliver’s mom, Maureen, lose something she can never get back. She’s probably the only senior with a 9PM curfew (on weekends!) and parents who absolutely do NOT want her to apply and go away to college – especially not to UC San Diego, which is what Emmy wants more than anything in the world. Still, her world is pretty good – hanging out with her best friends Caro and Drew, surfing in the Pacific (which her parents totally do not know about, because danger! ocean! riptides! sharks!) and dreaming about a new wetsuit that actually fits, and babysitting Maureen and her new husband Rick’s twin girls.
And then Oliver comes home.
This book was SO GOOD. It’s got everything I love – great friendships, lots of snark, parents that feel like real parents who make lots of mistakes but still love their kids and are actual humans, great parties and awkward family dinners, cars with personality, plenty of beach time, and a romance that’s both sweet and intense. If you haven’t read Emmy & Oliver, add it to your spring reads pile, dream about living a life where you can’t keep the beach sand and salt out of your car, and then, like me, wait super anxiously for Far From the Tree to come in for you!