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

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5. There is important commentary on rape culture

Oh sorry, did you think two major social commentaries were enough for one book? Well, Mary H.K. Choi clearly doesn’t agree.

On top of addressing mental illness and poverty, she also uses Emergency Contact to unpack some of the unhealthy beliefs surrounding sexual assault. Readers discover that one of the characters was a victim of sexual assault, and the characters’ reactions to this event highlight much of the flawed thinking surrounding the topic.

While this instance of assault is not the focal point of the plot, Choi makes some stellar points about how we tend to view these attacks. For example, the character in question piles blame onto herself, wondering whether she should have fought harder or been more vocal when declining the advances. This type of thinking is clearly problematic, and Choi emphasizes it in order to discount it. Sadly, this mindset is common among victims of violence.

Choi goes on to make it clear that this character’s experience counts, despite the fact that the event was never reported. Emergency Contact argues that victims don’t need to take action against their attackers, or even tell people about what’s happened to them, for their story to be valid. The trauma that follows such a violation of human rights is always valid, and the book makes that point well.