When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can’t get any worse. Then she marries her “husband”: Jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona’s long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very mysterious Johnny Mercer. Pranks, fights, misunderstandings, and reconciliations ensue in an almost Shakespearean comedy of errors about mistaken first impressions, convoluted coupling, and hidden crushes.
Review - I needed to read a good contemporary YA novel like Kristen Stewart needs to smile...badly. It's with infinite gratitude that I give my thanks to the Book Gods and Kristin Walker for A Match Made in High School. It's fun, it's quirky, it's relatively unpredictably and it's full of bickering. Funny, somewhat risque bickering that made me what to track down a certain chap from over a decade ago and see if we could resume similar communications via Facebook. I know, I am sad...and kind of crushing on Todd Harding. What can I say? I love an ass. An ass who has a definite way with dirty jokes and innuendo.
What I am trying to say is that this novel is infused with life. It's sparky, quickly paced and more than anything moves the protagonist through a series of events to a natural point of self realisation. Fiona's self-indulgent, snobbish and a little self centred. While many of my fellow reviewers found this protagonist to be frustrating, I overly identified with her. In fact, her self realisation coincided with my recognition of her more negative character traits. Sure, I was aware of how her behaviour was affecting others, even when she wasn't, but I truly empathised with her situation.
The concept of a student fake marriage curriculum program is a little far fetched but it works exceedingly well to authentically evolve a myriad of characters. It is not just Fiona who grows in this novel, it's the whole host of supporting characters. Each is well rounded. Flaws abound in this group of individuals, they can appear cliched on first glance but almost immediately Walker allows you to peek behind the curtain. One of the possible love interests is a little too good to be true throughout the story and as such I was less invested in him.
The storyline is tightly plotted with a variety of relationships depicted to varying degrees of depth. From the precocious babysitting charge to the girlified best friend to the snarky parents - each adds to the storyline and dollops of humour. Slightly predictable (I saw the Mar twist coming from a mile away), the journey is interesting enough (and at times swervy enough) to keep you turning the pages at a rapid pace.
The writing is somewhere in the field of Sarah Dessen or Elizabeth Scott, I am leaning towards to latter due the heavier use of humour and the (at times) delightfully crude dialogue. Walker has smartly crafted a protagonist that is all personality without having to lean on cliched crutches eg 'woe is me, I am beautiful but misunderstood', 'my parents are screwed up and so am I', 'people die around me...a lot' or vampires. The internal passage of this girl is frequently laugh provoking, snarky and real. Friendship plays just as an important role as friendship and that is something I can really get behind. The plot and writing style are nicely weighted to tell the story of an ordinary girl with ordinary problems in an exciting, dynamic voice.
An impressive debut effort!
Published: February 2010
Format: Paperback, 277 pages
Source of Review Copy: purchased