Emergency Contact: 6 reasons this is one of the best young adult releases of 2018

4 of 7

3. The text tackles anxiety disorder — accurately.

Over the past few years, the number of novels portraying mental illness has increased, particularly within the young adult genre. The market called for representation, and authors rushed to deliver. Emergency Contact is no exception to this. Both of our main characters struggle with anxiety disorders, something that many readers will no doubt relate to.

The most important aspect of writing about mental illness is getting the experience right, and Mary H.K. Choi manages this with ease. She writes the characters’ struggles in a way that suggests she’s either undergone these symptoms firsthand, or she’s done a whole bunch of research on the subject. Either way, her efforts show.

Penny, our female lead, experiences severe social anxiety and tends to isolate herself from the people she’s closest to. She becomes exhausted and overwhelmed when faced with social situations, especially when conflict is involved. It’s clear she sabotages her relationships for fear of losing them, and it’s easy for readers with even the mildest forms of social anxiety to put themselves in Penny’s shoes.

Our male protagonist, Sam, also suffers from anxiety. This ailment is a recent discovery for Sam, and readers get to endure his first panic attack with him. The descriptions of the event are spot on, especially the comparisons Choi draws to having a heart attack. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having a panic attack, you’ll absolutely relate to the incident.