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Playing with Matches

by Suri Rosen

How could anything possibly go wrong when you’re just trying to make things right? That’s the question 16-year-old Raina Resnick is faced with when she gets herself into one messy situation after another in Suri Rosen’s charming debut novel.

The story opens with Raina starting a new life in Toronto, where she’s been sent to live with her strict aunt after being expelled from her Manhattan private school. To make matters worse, Raina is also being ignored by her older sister (and former best friend) Leah, who blames Raina for her recently broken engagement.

Determined to get back into Leah’s good graces, Raina decides to secretly find a new man for her sister. After fixing up a family friend with a woman she meets on the bus, Raina realizes she’s got a knack for matchmaking, and ends up becoming the anonymous online “Matchmaven,” working within Toronto’s Jewish community.

Raina’s plan quickly becomes complicated, especially when Leah starts confiding in Matchmaven about her annoying little sister. Though the plot is completely over the top, the story succeeds because Raina is so likable. She’s wryly funny, adorably naive, and by no means perfect, yet it’s impossible not to root for her. This isn’t just the story of how Raina and Leah become friends again; it’s also the story of how Raina is forced to face her flaws and fix her own mistakes.

Although it is the catalyst that sets the rest of the story in motion, Raina’s expulsion isn’t explained until late in the book. While there’s emotional payoff from the long-awaited reveal, the suspense feels drawn out and occasionally detracts from the more entertaining main story. Otherwise, Rosen gives us a coming-of-age tale with a twist featuring a fun heroine who puts 100 per cent toward creating a happy ending.