Title: Emmy & Oliver
Author: Robin Benway
Release Date: July 16th, 2015 (UK)
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I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.
This book is so cute!
When Emmy and Oliver were seven years old, Oliver's dad kidnapped him and moved him across the country to start a new life. The media ascend and the search for Oliver begins but he isn't found and interest soon fizzles out. Fast forward ten years and Oliver returns to a life he once knew but barely remembers.
Despite the kidnapping being a central component to the storyline, it is not the main focus. Friendships, family life and growing up are all given ample space. The effect of Oliver's kidnapping is felt by more than his immediate family and it was interesting to see the repercussions of that.
Oliver is a really interesting character and I do wish we could have had parts of the story from his perspective. We learn about a lot of his feelings through his conversations with Emmy but I would have loved to have had more of them first-hand. I think the kidnapping story was really well done and I appreciated that it wasn't just swept under the carpet when he returned. He didn't immediately slot back into his old life. He felt like an outsider, he didn't remember people or places and he was hurting. I really liked his relationship with Emmy. There isn't an instant connection when he returns (no insta-love) and I loved their slow progression of getting to know each other again to becoming friends to becoming more. Emmy herself is a likeable character and I like that she had interests and dreams other than Oliver and didn't forget about them.
Some of the side characters were also interesting in their own right and had their own problems. Drew and Caro deal with homophobia in their own family and distant parents respectively whilst also learning how to be friends with Oliver again. Some of the dialogue from Drew is hilarious and he is a great best friend. Emmy's parents were a little frustrating with their over-protectiveness. Emmy is seventeen but she is given bedtimes and at one point told to "eat two more bites" of a meal before being allowed to leave. Whilst their over-protectiveness is completely understandable given what happened to Oliver, it just felt a little bit too far at times.
I really loved this story and these characters and I read the majority of the book with a smile on my face. I highly recommend it.