Newest review: You Have a Match by Emma Lord

By Ekta R. Garg

January 13, 2021

Genre: YA fiction

Release date: January 12, 2021

Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars

A teen makes a startling discovery after signing up to get her DNA sequenced. As she grapples with the results, a number of other secrets come to light. Through it all, the teen will need to decide what family and friendship really mean to her. Author Emma Lord brings to life her complicated characters with minor hiccups in the endearing novel You Have a Match.

In the little Seattle suburb of Shoreline, Abby Day is trying to deal with reality. Before her junior year of high school started, her grandfather, Poppy, died, causing Abby’s grades to slide. Her parents are freaking out and have scheduled Abby for every tutoring and prep session available.

Abby feels like she doesn’t have time to breathe. She also doesn’t have time for her photography anymore, a passion she shared with Poppy. Abby wishes she could explain to her mom and dad that if she could just take pictures, she’d actually do better in school. She can’t tell them that, though; they’ve rearranged their busy legal careers so someone is always at home with her and her brothers. Poppy used to take care of them. Now her parents are around all the time, and it’s driving Abby insane.

Her best friends, Leo and Connie, make life a little more bearable. Of course, things have been awkward with Leo after the BEI, otherwise known as the Big Embarrassing Incident, where Abby misread some signals. Now she can’t be her normal, goofy skateboarding self around Leo.

When a class at school sparks a conversation about family trees, then, it seems like the good old days when Abby and Connie practically dare Leo to take a DNA sequencing test. Because he and his sister were adopted, he’s always been curious about his heritage. In a bid of solidarity, all three friends spit into vials from their kits and mail them off.

Leo doesn’t get the answers he was looking for, but Abby gets some she didn’t even know existed. Apparently, she has a sister—a full-blooded sister—who lives in the area and is only a year-and-a-half older than her. Worse, when Abby looks up her new sister, Savannah “Savvy” Tully, online, she discovers that her new sibling is an Instagram influencer for the personal health industry. She’s put-together, well-heeled, and has a mad number of followers. She’s the exact opposite of Abby.

The girls meet, wary of one another and full of questions. Why would Abby’s parents give Savvy up? How do their parents know one another? Why didn’t they tell the girls about Savvy’s adoption?

The only way to get any answers, they decide, is to execute a plan that involves summer camp and hacking into parental email accounts. As Abby begins to spend more time with Savvy, she learns that the “what ifs” life throws at a person can sometimes become the “what nows.” Neither of those, she discovers, are bad things.

Author Emma Lord builds characters who are real and refreshing. Abby shares her uncertainty about Leo after the BEI proving how teens, just like adults, care so deeply about their friendships that they’re not willing to risk them for something else, even if that results in a broken heart. Lord does a great job, too, juxtaposing Abby’s lack of confidence with Savvy’s cool and collected manner. Even when the girls get into scrapes together, Savvy manages to pull herself together within moments.

If the book can be faulted anywhere, it’s in leaving the secondary characters less developed. Abby talks often about her three brothers, but readers don’t really spend any time with them. It’s a testament to Lord’s careful crafting that readers will still care about Abby’s brothers, even when they’re almost always off the page. A love interest for Savvy surprises her at camp, but, again, what’s known about the relationship is what Savvy shares. The full impact of the unfolding events doesn’t land nearly as much as they might have if readers had more information. Even the other best friend, Connie, gets relegated to the background once Abby arrives at camp.

Despite all this, the book is warm, funny, and offers a slow romantic burn that will make readers’ toes curl with delight. Those who like books about young love and finding one’s identity all in the same summer will enjoy this one. I recommend readers Bookmark You Have a Match.

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