Emergency Contact [Mary HK Choi]

Start Date: 2020-03-16

Finish Date: 2020-03-17

Source: Brooklyn Public Library Kindle edition

Goodreads link.

Goodreads summary:

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.


  • Beatzo recommended this to me when I was asking for light fiction. I’m going to whack him when I see him next. It has unplanned pregnancy, first world poverty and missing health insurance, parental death scares, and credit card fraud. What on earth is light in there? I was expecting a Bernie Sanders rally to pop up in any page.
  • Bernie Sanders facetiousness aside, it did seem like the characters are fucked by society or circumstances at large, and their victories are not over societal circumstance but over interpersonal ones. I don’t know if I find that enjoyable.
  • The chapters which were almost all texting just kept making me think of Because Internet and its argument that the Internet has created the new category of informal written language.
  • I got annoyed at the meta-ness of the “How to write” bits.
  • But the language was really deft when it came to describing the teen crushes and interactions.
  • Overall, it’s a good book. Just not the one I wanted to read in a stressful time.


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