Banished to her strict Aunt Mira’s in Toronto after her expulsion from her Manhattan school, sixteen-year-old Raina Resnick looks forward to her sister Leah’s arrival for her wedding. But Leah is cold toward her, her wedding plans canceled because of Raina’s actions. With nagging at school and now at home, Raina seeks to help the young woman she calls Gingie-Locks on the bus find a suitable husband in Toronto’s close-knit Orthodox community. Her matchmaking, anonymous through email, becomes a hit and Raina’s heart begins to mend when Leah asks “Matchmaven” for help. The more Raina helps the community, the deeper into trouble she gets, always doing the wrong thing, always being blamed, until the engagement party of two seniors, brought together by her matchmaking.
Suri Rosen has created a set of characters fully realized. Each has positive traits and some flaws, making them inherently human. Raina has an indomitable spirit and perseveres in her quest to help, not always making the right choices, but with her heart in the right place. Readers will find themselves rooting for her the whole way. Presented with great voice, Raina represents that sixteen-year-old who questions her place in the world and the gifts she can offer it.
Rosen smartly chose not to give Raina a love interest, unlike Austen’s Emma. Instead, she focuses on the delicate relationship between Raina and her sister and its poignant moments. Readers may want to keep a box of tissues nearby.
Recommended for ages 12 and up.
Barbara Krasner is an award-winning poet and historian who focuses her writing on the Jewish experience in America and during the Holocaust. She teaches in the history department of The College of New Jersey and serves as Director, Mercer Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Education Center.