I've received this book from the publisher via Netgalley. As always, I'm very grateful, but it does not influence my review.
July seems to be a great month for new releases and Emmy & Oliver might be my favourite. As I've mentioned before, I do not particularly like love stories, but this book has completely changed my opinion.
It's the story of Oliver, a boy who is kidnapped by his father when he is 7, and Emmy, his friend who is left behind wondering what happened to him. Ten years later, Oliver returns and the consequences of someone being ripped from their environment are revealed.
The reason this love story worked for me is the characterisation of both Emmy and Oliver. Instead of love-struck teens with no sense of reality, both of them realise the hardship Oliver has been through and the complications it has for them together. Their relationship is not easy. They deal with things I couldn't even deal with and it made for a very interesting read to see a teen's perspective on such mature themes.
Another reason why I loved this book is the family dynamics. This is not just about Emmy and Oliver; it's about their families, friends and community being affected by a small boy missing and returning as a teen. Oliver's family struggles with the fact that he actually doesn't blame his father and Emmy's parents struggle with the fear that she might be kidnapped next. These issues are explored so rawly that it just breaks your heart at times. It is fiction, but it is so real that you can't help but relate to the characters.
I've finished this book in one night and I couldn't stop thinking about it after I've finished it. It's so good. The characters are relatable and realistic and I just couldn't forget them - not now or not ever. While I always like looking for flaws in stories, I really couldn't find one here (there's even a feminist theme in the book!), so this book is a clear five out of five stars. Prepare to have your heart broken, healed, torn and warmed when you read this book.