Playing With Matches

Raina Resnick is in exile from her beloved New York. After being expelled from her school in Manhattan, she has been banished to live with relatives in the outer limits of Toronto, where she has to ride the Bathurst bus to a school where nobody likes her. Her parents are in Hong Kong, her sister won’t speak to her, and she can’t catch a break from her eagle-eyed aunt or the stern principal at her new school

In Suri Rosen’s Playing with Matches, sixteen-year-old Raina tumbles from one disaster to another in her new life, but somehow manages to emerge with a new sense of herself and understanding of the people around her. A friendly impulse to set up two strangers on a date leads to a flood of requests from other Jewish lonely hearts, and suddenly she is transformed into Matchmaven: an anonymous online matchmaker people turn to when they can’t find love anywhere else.

This is a funny, refreshing look at the challenges of being a teenager, when the world seems against you no matter how hard you try to make things right. Raina is called upon to deal with a jealous Great Dane, a chauvinist who gets stuck in a portable toilet, and a geriatric party girl bent on devouring the hi-octane junk food that will send her into cardiac arrest.

Rosen takes a satiric but affectionate look at life in a close-knit Jewish community — the matchmaking, the shopping, the food. Her easygoing, humourous writing style lends itself well to Raina’s wry outlook on the world around her. And because Rosen chooses to amuse rather than preach, her gentle lesson about self-discovery and forgiveness will resonate with young adult readers.