Books to Read and Wrap for the Holidays

Emergency Contact

It’s wry and vulnerable love via text message in this YA novel set in Austin

Books to Read and Wrap for the Holidays

When we talk about technology and phones and the state of social interaction In This Day And Age, there tends to be a lot of hand-wringing and not a lot of discussion about how it affects the experience of having a crush. But with Mary H.K. Choi's debut novel, the joy and humor of what it is to be digitally tied to people is warmly illuminated.

Penny comes to Austin to attend the University of Texas and thanks to her roommate, she meets Sam, an aspiring filmmaker currently working and living at a cafe near campus. In person, their interactions are hampered by anxiety and second-guessing, but when becoming each other's – you guessed it – emergency contacts leads them to exchange phone numbers, they're suddenly presented with a means of communication less daunting. With the ability to delay a response and carefully craft a reply, texting frees Penny and Sam to be vulnerable with each other, even as the ease of messaging makes the prospect of interacting in person more nerve-wracking than ever. It's delicate work, making other people's texts funny and intimate, making the little drama of two ordinary people engrossing, but Emergency Contact manages to do both, with an incisive voice and a generous heart.


And for all the teens who can't stop rewatching To All the Boys ...:

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (Balzer + Bray, 368 pp., $17.99) This heartfelt follow-up to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – adapted to screen as Love, Simon – puts the focus on the titular Leah as she wrestles with the bittersweetness of senior year, when and how to come out as bi, and her burgeoning crush on new friend group addition, Abby.

Check, Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu (First Second, 288 pp., $23.99) Charm radiates off this graphic novel about gay romance, friendships, and college hockey, which collects the first half of the beloved webcomic series about vlogger and compulsive baker Eric Bittle.

P.S. I Still Love You and Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) The Netflix sequel deal is officially signed, so there's no better time to read parts two and three of Han's funny, tender To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy.


Emergency Contact

by Mary H.K. Choi
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 400 pp., $17.99

  • Books to Read and Wrap for the Holidays

    Ditch that elf on the shelf so you can put all these nifty books there
  • A Mile Above Texas

    Gorgeous images of land and water shot from the air provide a fresh perspective on the Lone Star State

    Garlandia

    One family man's fight to survive divine assaults and a community turned against him becomes a rollicking, rambling epic, superbly rendered

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Gift Guide 2018
Holiday Gifts for Fans of the Big and Small Screen
Holiday Gifts for Fans of the Big and Small Screen
From essential box sets to writers’ wisdom: stocking fillers and the gifts that keep on giving for your watching pleasure

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 7, 2018

The Luv Doc’s Holiday Gift Guide
The Luv Doc’s Holiday Gift Guide
What you need is enough morphine to send you sweetly into that good night

The Luv Doc, Dec. 7, 2018

More YA fiction
Gift Guide 2015: Fiction by Austin Authors
Kissing in America
Rabb's second YA novel features more than one love story, and they're all worth telling

Kimberley Jones, Dec. 11, 2015

More Arts Reviews
The Wedding Date
The Wedding Date
For a good time, read Jasmine Guillory's delightful debut romcom

Rosalind Faires, Oct. 26, 2018

November Road
November Road
Lou Berney's latest, set around JFK's assassination, is a tightly written crime tale worthy of Raymond Chandler or James M. Cain

Jesse Sublett, Oct. 26, 2018

More by Rosalind Faires
Texas Book Festival 2018: Real Romance: Alyssa Cole and Jasmine Guillory
Texas Book Festival 2018: Real Romance: Alyssa Cole and Jasmine Guillory
The two on what makes their contemporary love stories sparkle

Oct. 29, 2018

Texas Book Festival 2018: The Real Story of Lolita
Texas Book Festival 2018: The Real Story of Lolita
Sarah Weinman on the true crime story behind Nabokov’s novel

Oct. 28, 2018

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

YA fiction, Gift Guide 2018, Mary H.K. Choi

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle