Buy You Have A Match
Regular price: $18.09
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Reviewer: Melissa on Jan. 19, 2021
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
You Have a Match, the sophomoric novel by Emma Lord, is an interesting look at what happens when Abby’s friend, Leo, asks her and their other BFF, Connie, to take a DNA kit in the hopes of finding some biological family members other than his sister, Carla, with whom he was adopted. Why interesting? Because when Abby goes over to commiserate with Leo when he doesn’t find anyone, she gets a phone-cracking notification stating that she has a full blooded sister who not only lives pretty close to her, but also who is only a year and a half older than she is.
Abby and Savvy (aka Savannah), her new-to-her sister, decide to meet up in downtown Seattle where the mystery continues as they realize that this wasn’t just some random adoption by a stranger. Their parents knew each other. Very well. Something big must’ve happened, something so big that not only were their parents no longer friends, but also Abby’s parents lied to her for sixteen years, never telling her about the older sister who they gave up for adoption. When Abby’s dad breaks up Abby and Savvy’s first meeting with a text, they hastily agree to spend a summer together at Camp Reynolds—somewhere Abby’s parent’s were pushing her to go to anyway because of the SAT prep course—because they need to unravel the mystery of what happened between their parents.
I initially requested this book for review on NetGalley because I’d read and absolutely loved Tweet Cute last year. I listened to the audiobook of Lord’s debut novel, and I was hooked. It was one of the cutest, fluffiest YA romances I read in 2020, so when I heard the author was publishing another book this year, I knew that I had to read it without really even knowing what it was about. Honestly, from the title, I assumed it would be somehow related to the match on a dating app, but boy was I ever wrong. I mean, it is cute and drama-filled, but it has nothing to do with a dating app, and there isn’t a great meet cute.
While You Have a Match is cute, it wasn’t quite as cute and fluffy as Tweet Cute was. It’s a lot more angsty and drama-filled, which makes sense for the circumstances of the novel, but it definitely wasn’t the kind of book I was expecting because the romance definitely takes a backseat to the family drama. Lord does a good job of exploring the complications and questions that come up from finding full, and presumably half, siblings or other family members via a DNA test. Moreover, it’s a timely book because this kind of thing is happening more and more often as DNA testing becomes ubiquitous in society. For example, I read a creative nonfiction piece last year in which the writer found other close family members through a testing kit, and I’m sure it is far from the only article out there on this topic. Seeing the complications through the POV of a teen through this novel, though, gave me a better understanding of the kinds of things one might think or feel in these circumstances. Especially as more of the story of Abby and Savvy’s parents unravels.
As for the romance, it is there, but it’s more about miscommunication and fear of breaking up a friend group after sharing one’s feelings for someone else than the cute, will they, won’t they vibe of Tweet Cute. In addition, I really don’t like the way jealousy pops up between Savvy and her girlfriend Jo over Savvy’s BFF, Mickey (aka McKayla) or between Leo and Abby over another camper, Finn. The only saving grace for me there is that Abby doesn’t suggest that the jealousy is romantic, but rather views it as a “why do you think it’s okay to jealous over Finn when you don’t even want to be with me” kind of vibe. There is more to the romance than this, and ultimately, it’s a really mature view of teenage love, but the jealousy did make the romance less fluffy than Lord’s previous book.
Beyond the family and romance drama, You Have a Match deals with friendship of the new and old kind. As mentioned above, the only reason that Abby even considered taking the DNA test was in support of one of her best friends, Leo. As an adopted kid, he had a vested interest in getting tested, but Abby’s main concern was trying to get a higher percentage of Irish heritage than their other BFF, Connie. (To say that finding an older full blooded sister was a surprise is a vast understatement.) Since Abby had a crush on Leo, a big part of her concern—other than the possibility that he might not feel the same way as she did—was that telling Leo might ruin their friendship or make things weird between her group of three, ride or die friends. And she clearly wasn’t the only one who thought this way as you’ll see when you read what Connie told Abby just after Thanksgiving. When one of Leo’s old camp friends (and new-to-her friends) tell Abby that he couldn’t stop talking about her last summer and suggested that it was a sign he liked her, it doesn’t take away any of the anxiety that she has because that might mean that her other BFF lied to her. At the same time, Abby’s experience of going to camp opens her up to the experience of meeting and befriending a lot of new people: her Phoenix cabin mates, Finn, Mickey, and even her new-to-her sister, which lets Abby realize that while her old BFFs are great, she has room in her life for way more people and friends. It’s something that a lot of people could stand to learn, but since Leo is a senior and won’t be at her high school anymore next year and Connie is busy with school and her own extracurriculars, it’s always a good idea for Abby to expand her friendship group.
Finally, while it’s not fully explored and definitely doesn’t suggest that it’s dealt with through traditional approaches like therapy, a big part of Abby’s character is text book issues with anxiety. She’s shy and doesn’t really seem to love the idea of making new friends, which both point to a bit of social anxiety. However, Abby repeatedly is described as pushing off difficult conversations and other hard-to-do things, which many people might not know is a key piece of the anxious people’s behaviour. For example, she finds the overscheduling of tutoring that her parents have signed her up for stressful, but she avoids telling them because the conversation would be hard and in some way, it’s easier to just go along with it. It’s one part boundary issues, because she’s putting her parents need to overschedule her over her own needs to have free time to explore her creativity, and another part procrastination, which is one of the lesser known symptoms of anxiety. Sometimes people with anxiety put off things that they need to do or should do because doing the thing itself causes them anxiety. And at the beginning of the book, this is textbook Abby. Personally, I would’ve preferred to see Abby go to therapy, even single session or short term, to deal with her anxiety, but I didn’t write the book.
If you’re looking for a book that’s more about changing family dynamics than romance, you’ll definitely should pick up You Have a Match.
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