Title: Playing with Matches
Author: Suri Rosen
Genre & Age Group: Contemporary, romance, young adult
A cross between Jane Austen’s Emma, Dear Abby, and Yenta the matchmaker!
When 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she’s sent to live with her strict aunt-but Raina feels like she’s persona non grata no matter where she goes. Her sister, Leah, blames her for her broken engagement, and she’s a social pariah at her new school. In the tight-knit Jewish community, Raina finds she is good at one thing: matchmaking! As the anonymous “MatchMaven,” Raina sets up hopeless singles desperate to find the One.
Can she find the perfect match for her sister and get back on her good side, or will her secret life catch up with her?
In this debut novel, Suri Rosen creates a comic and heartwarming story of one girl trying to find happiness for others, and redemption for herself.
Source: Public library
Solely equipped with the knowledge that this book included a Jewish main character, I decided that I needed to check it out. Because I myself am Jewish, it is sometimes hard for me to find representation of this in YA, so when I know of books that do have that representation, I always want to devour them. Plus, this book takes place in my hometown, so that especially sold me into reading it!
I turned out to love Playing with Matches! It was an authentic, light-hearted, memorable, and fun read, and I know it is one that I will both remember as well as recommend to others.
For a brief synopsis, this story follows a high schooler named Raina Resnick. Since she has been expelled from her school in Manhattan, she is sent to live in Toronto with her aunt and attend a parochial all girls’ school within that area. Hence this, Raina has trouble fitting in, so there is one thing from which she finds solace- matchmaking! She obtains a pseudonym of “MatchMaven” and works to match up singles. But will her identity be revealed, and could this do more harm than good?
I really liked Raina because she was extremely altruistic and helpful to others. Although risking her academic success to help people was wrong, I thought that it was great that she took up such a successful interpersonal hobby. And she started all of it to help fix her sister’s broken engagement- how sweet is that?
Hence that, I also adored that this book included family ties over romance between the main characters. Raina’s relationship with her sister, Leah, was flawed- there’s no denying that at all. However, I really enjoyed the journey leading to piecing it back together, even if it included anonymity and matchmaking. 😉
Overall, I would highly recommend Playing with Matches to other avid contemporary readers. For a change, sisterhood is more prominent in the storyline than direct romance, and the book is short and sweet enough to make its readers smile. Sure, it’s cheesy in some aspects, but it is definitely a novel to match with!