Saturday, April 7, 2018
By Mary H. K. Choi
New York, Simon & Schuster, 2018. 400 pgs Young Adult
What do you do when your best friend is someone you’ve only “met” twice but text with for hours? For Penny Lee, Sam Becker is much more than words on a screen. He is more than her college roommate’s young, erstwhile uncle. He is also more than just a sexy, tattooed, wanna-be-filmmaker barista who has anxiety attacks and bakes. He is her person, someone with whom she shares her deepest anxieties and darkest secrets. Her emergency contact.
As two lonely and complicated people, they begin to build a friendship and maybe something more. But this book isn’t just about relationships in the cell phone age. It's about art. Sam and Penny are both creatives, Sam longing to go to film school and Penny determined to become a writer. They both have to decide who they want to be as artists and how to build their craft.
Mary H. K. Choi’s debut novel is complex; poignant while being funny, romantic yet awkward, serious and silly. I was expecting all the cliches. They were there, but they were handled so honestly and with such humor that they didn’t feel cliche. Choi creates quirky and endearing characters who show real growth and self-awareness. I couldn’t put it down.