A warm, feel-good story about family (especially sisterhood), friends becoming something more, and learning to be a brave person, You Have a Match by Emma Lord feels like it should be a rom-com, but turns out to be so much more.
Abby Day is unhappy with her life, but doesn’t know how to change it. Ever since her grandfather, her caretaker and closest ally, died last summer, her grades have been plunging, leading her parents to panic and saddle her with countless tutors who suck up all her free time. Secretly, she already knows she wants to be a photographer, but is too scared to share that with her parents… with anyone besides her grandfather, really. To make matters worse, she has been crushing on her best friend Leo for the past year, but after an embarrassing incident months before, their relationship has become awkward. When it comes to pulling pranks or climbing a tree to get a good shot, Abby is fearless, but when it comes to talking about her feelings, she is terrified.
Wanting to learn about his birth parents, Leo decides to do a DNA test and convinces Abby to do one too. She expects nothing to come of it, so is shocked when the test reveals that she has an older sister — and this older sister wants to meet.
Reminding me of a 21st century update of The Parent Trap (I was raised on the Hayley Mills version), these two decide that instead of telling their parents right away, they will head off to summer camp together to get to know each other better. When she first arrives, Abby isn’t so sure about the experience. First, Leo is a counselor at the camp, which forces Abby to spend more time with him. Second, her new sister, Savannah, is not as easy to get along with as she had hoped. Savvy is the opposite of Abby — she is an Instagram celebrity, spandex wearer, and fitness queen. She follows rules to the T and color codes her Google Calendar, including her dates. Where Abby is chaos, Savvy is control, and she isn’t so sure those two can ever work together.
In my opinion, this novel is the perfect feel-good contemporary. Essentially, it is a rom-com, but although the romance is a big part of the story, it dives deeper. The family dynamics and Abby’s growth as a character is the main focus instead, which I appreciated. As someone who comes from a complicated family, that brings up a mix of emotions in me. I related to Abby’s struggles. I related to not feeling good enough for your parents, wondering if you are “the problem child,” wondering if your parents would be happier with your perfect older sibling. The family drama felt authentic and powerful to me.
I also loved the setting! A novel set at summer camp is perfect for a YA — not only does it easily introduce us to lots of characters, but it is also full of secret trails, make-out spots, and haunted trees. It was fun to explore. I loved all the characters at summer camp, and those scenes were full of hilarious banter. One frustration I had was with the romance, but it was a personal taste thing, not a critique of the writing. Abby ended up with the guy I wasn’t rooting for, but I do admit they are cute together.
For fans of The Parent Trap, summer camp YA, and those nostalgic for Sarah Dessen’s work, I highly recommend this book!