Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Quality of Prose: 3/5
Quality of Story: 3/5
Quality of Characters: 2/5
Ability to Make the Audience Think/Feel Differently: 1.5/5
How Long It Took Me to Finish: 5 days
A 1 Sentence Summary
When Emmy’s childhood best friend, Oliver, returns home after being missing for 10 years because his father kidnapped him, Emmy & Oliver reconnect, fall in love, and learn to be true to themselves despite what their parents want for them.
My Favorite Quote
“I just hugged him and didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything to say. Sometimes there just aren’t enough words to fill the cracks in your heart.”
What I Loved About It
It’s a really interesting premise, exploring the aftermath of a biological parent kidnapping situation. I also thought Oliver was a really interesting character that kept me reading so I could learn more about him. But I thought that Benway kept something that could have dove really deep into some serious issues (I mean just imagine being kidnapped by your own parent while your other parent searches everywhere for you without you knowing. That is some messed up stuff!) very lighthearted and surface level. Emmy and Oliver fall in love and Emmy learns to tell her parents the truth about who she is because of him and that’s all nice and fluffy, but OLIVER WAS KIDNAPPED BY HIS DAD and why is this book so light and chill considering its subject matter?
Also, why does it mostly center on Emmy? I found myself caring very little about Emmy’s petty “I just want to surf but it’s dangerous so I can’t tell my parents about it” drama. Oliver was kidnapped and is trying to adjust to life with a mom that he doesn’t know because his dad took him from her and he misses his dad and this is some heavy stuff but for some reason it isn’t given the proper amount of heaviness in the novel. It also ends in a very happy “life is good” kind of way, and I just don’t think it’d be that easy for Oliver to adjust and cope after dealing with something like that.
I also feel like Benway’s prose is really good sometimes, and other times is trying way too hard to be funny or deep or relatable, and to me the trying-too-hard-ness was really obvious and took away from the book as a whole.
Overall, I liked this book. It was entertaining and fun. But the problem is that I don’t think it should be a fun book considering the subject matter.
What My Students Could Learn From It
Be true to yourself. Don’t just become who your parents want you to be, but forge a new path for yourself. All that tired teen trope jazz. Nothing much deeper than that.