WCW: Penny Lee from Emergency Contact

Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi Spotlight on Penny Lee


Penny knew emoji hearts were flying out of her eyes. She was smitten mitten kittens.

Emergency Contact

There’s nothing better than a character in which you can see yourself in and that’s how I felt when I first met Penny Lee.

Emergency Contact Recap

Penny is about to leave the nest and start her first semester in college, the only problem is that she is a bit socially awkward (aren’t we all?). She has unique interests and tastes that some might find a little…odd, yet she stays true to who she is.

College comes with a whole multitude of new challenges including, but not limited to, a roommate she barely knows and the roommates best friend. She has nothing in common with them and is struggling to find where she fits in this wide new world. That is until she meets Sam.

Sam works at a coffee shop not far from campus and is her roommates’ “uncle”. Sam understands Penny in a way that nobody else does. They understand each others weird jokes but more importantly understand each others struggles. Penny becomes Sam’s emergency contact bonding them in ways neither expected.

Why I Love Penny Lee

Like I mentioned in the beginning, I can see myself in Penny. When I first got to college I felt like a fish out of water and it took me a very long time to find where I fit and to feel like I belonged.

One thing that I loved is that Penny tackles the topic of mental illness; something that is so misunderstood and that has a negative connotation. As an advocate of mental health and as someone that deals with mental illness on the daily I find it refreshing when an author sheds light on the topic in a way that portrays what it’s like for people that may not understand it through their characters.

Penny also tackles racism. She is Korean-American and regularly has to speak up about racist things that people say about her and her culture, whether it’s meant to be offensive or not. She’s not afraid to call people out about their ignorance which I loved and appreciated in a female character.

The diverse cast of characters really brought the book to life. This wasn’t an *insert Asian character here* *insert African-American character here* type of book; it felt organic in a way that often eludes authors.


Is there a book in which you see yourself in the main character? If so, which one? Let me know in the comments below!

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