July 18, 2015 • Cee • Reviews

emmy & oliverEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
June 23, 2015
Harper Teen
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* e-ARC courtesy of HarperCollins + Edelweiss

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?


I received this book for free from Edelweiss + HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “The last time Emmy sees Oliver is on their forty-third day of second grade.”

Have you ever expected to like—even love—a book, but once you’ve read it, it turns out that you don’t like it as much as other readers do? That’s me with Emmy & Oliver. I loved Robin Benway’s writing, but I felt very disconnected from it.

The story goes: Emmy and Oliver have been friends since they were babies in diapers until Oliver disappears when they were in second grade. Ten years later, Oliver reappears, and everybody—Oliver, Emmy, and their parents—have to deal with the effects of his kidnapping and his return as they attempt to rebuild their lives. Even though Emmy wants to go back to the old days when she and Oliver were close, she realizes things have changed for them. She tries to get to know present-day Oliver who is more subdued and hurting, and they both face their struggles and confront their past and their future together.

What Topics Do Emmy & Oliver Explore

  • Friendship: These characters are loyal and would crowbar people who mess with them.

These friends are everything to each other. Emmy, Caro, and Drew are the type of friends you’d want on your side.  If anybody messes with their friends, I’m sure they’d toilet paper their bully’s house as revenge. They are a witty and playful bunch. I constantly found myself grinning because of their dialogue, which you can only expect the best kind from Robin Benway. (I had tears in my eyes, laughing at Drew’s “The sign says STOP. Not GIVE UP.”) They had great banter with each other that made me go, “that’s friendship.”

These friends will fight others and each other when it matters. They care a lot, okay? I love that!

  • Kidnapping: They are still dealing with the aftermath of it in the present day.   

The kidnapping serves an important part in Emmy & Oliver; it caused a ripple effect. The entire kidnapping affected everybody who was involved as well as the people who were close with Oliver’s family. These characters are still dealing with the aftermath of it even in the present day. It’s been ten years, and they’re still stuck, frozen in time—feeling the fear and anxiety of the kidnapping every single day. Nothing has really changed. 

I like that the kidnapping posed a personal dilemma for Oliver and showed how difficult it is for me to adjust to his new life. He’s conflicted about how he should feel. Should he hate his father for kidnapping him and lying to him even though his father had been nothing but loving all his life? It’s not easy for him to do that because it’s his dad, who taught him how to throw a ball and loved him when Oliver thought nobody else did. How is he supposed to adjust with his mom when it feels like he’s only disrupting her new life with her new husband and two kids? It’s not easy, and it takes time and honesty to truly move on.

  • Childhood Love: Emmy and Oliver rekindle the flame again ten years later. which was very adorable.

I guess their relationship was adorable? They didn’t immediately jumped into a relationship; it was a gradual build. Emmy and Oliver took the time to get to know each other since they are different people than they were ten years ago. They became friends first, and from there, their relationship blossomed. However, I didn’t feel the chemistry between them (most likely because Oliver’s characterization was more subdued and not as defined as Emmy. We don’t get his side that often). It felt stale. I didn’t feel the sparks.

  • Overprotective Parents: These parents just want their kids to be safe. 

Every parent fears for their children, and would do absolutely anything to keep them safe. That is what Emmy’s parents try to do. They make sure Emmy adheres to their rules—a 9pm curfew, not partaking in dangerous activities, and always checking in with them. It might be too much, but after seeing what happened to Oliver, how could anybody blame them for being overprotective? If it could happen next door, it could happen anywhere and to anybody. It’s very relatable.


Robin Benway continues to create great stories; she won’t disappoint you with this light but heartfelt story and the witty dialogue. Even though I did enjoy Emmy & Oliver, I still felt a bit disconnected with the characters. I never felt properly rooted into the story. Perhaps it’s because we never really get to see Oliver’s side of the story? This story is about Emmy and Oliver, but it’s focused more on Emmy’s point of view, and I thought we were missing his important point of view. I just wanted to love it and hoped that I would love it as much as others have. Every time somebody professes their love for it, I get slightly sad because I wish I could feel that love!

Emmy & Oliver is quite cute and light for its serious subject matter; it doesn’t bog you down in the heaviness. Plus, it’s Robin Benway. You can’t go wrong with Robin Benway.


4 Responses to “REVIEW | What Topics Do Emmy & Oliver Explore”

  1. So I’m petitioning that we get a companion book about Oliver and his experiences ;) That’s what I need in this world. Even though you didn’t connect as much as you were hoping, I’m glad you could still enjoy it!

  2. I am always hesitant of approaching contemporary reads as I find them emotional draining, glad to hear this one is a lighter fare despite the heavy subject on the blurb!

  3. Alexa S. says:

    Even though you weren’t able to connect as much as you wanted to, I’m glad you still wound up appreciating Emmy & Oliver! I thought Emmy and Oliver were such great characters; I really enjoyed getting to know them with every chapter. And, of course, Benway’s dialogue and humor were certainly spot on!

  4. I would love to read another Robin Benway book!! This sounds super interesting even though you didn’t feel connected to it :( I love the way you have this review laid out! Very cool.

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