Miss Match by Erynn Mangum
NavPress, 336 pages
Lauren Holbrook has found her life’s calling: matchmaking for the romantically challenged. And with the eclectic cast of characters in her world, there’s tons of potential to play “connect the friends.” Inspired by the recent success of matching her sister and new husband, Lauren sets out to introduce Nick, her carefree singles’ pastor, to Ruby, her neurotic coworker who plans every second of every day. What could possibly go wrong? Just about everything. When Lauren’s foolproof plan begins to unravel, she learns that a simple introduction between friends can bring about complicated results. And as she reconsiders her new role as Cupid (as well as her vow to stay single forever), will Lauren finally decide that God’s plan is always good enough?
I have seen Miss Match first on my friend’s bookshelf when she got back from her trip from the USA. I have been meaning to borrow it for the longest time but I always forget to ask about it when we see each other. Then when I got my Kindle, I have been eying the book in the store, thinking if it was worth the splurge. Come Christmas, I saw it went down to less than $2 and so I finally got it for myself. I started reading it soon after I finished the creeps-inducing read that is Choker.
Miss Match sounds and looks like everything there is to your typical chick lit. The pink cover with a girl and coffee cup is just the icing on the cake. Miss Match tells the story 23-year-old Laurie Holbrook who spends her free time making matches for her friends and family. Declaring herself to be single forever, she’s decided instead to match her friends, particularly Nick, their singles pastor and Ruby, her time-conscious Type-A co-worker. As Laurie works her “magic”, she makes new friends, learns a bit about how tricky relationships can be, and learns about God’s sovereignty along the way.
Wow, when I wrote it that way, it sounds like a book that I would pick up, read, enjoy all throughout and pick up life and faith lessons afterward. It sounds like a book that I would write a long thoughtful review of, pointing out the things I would like to remember as a mental note. When I put it that way, it sounds like something I would thoroughly enjoy and recommend to all my other girl friends.
As much as I wished I could say I enjoyed Miss Match…it saddens me to say that I did not.
I’m not one to give up reading books easily, especially ones I paid for myself. Miss Match really proved to be a big challenge — a first for a Christian chick lit novel. I liked the premise of the story, and I was curious enough to see how the author would make Laurie and her matchmaking connect with God’s sovereignty. As a whole, I liked sort of romantic aspect and the relationships of the characters in the book. I liked most of the supporting characters, particularly Laurie’s sisters and her co-workers. But as much as I liked the others, I must say this: I really, really disliked Laurie.
It’s hard to like a book when you don’t like the heroine, especially if you spend 100% of the book inside their head. Laurie first seemed like a nice person, but after a few chapters, I was getting sick of her. She’s bratty, almost self-centered. Her initially witty quips became annoying soon after you get past the first few chapters. It makes me wonder sometimes if I said the same things when I was 23 and if I was that annoying, too. Her characterization felt horribly inconsistent, like she was spouting random facts about herself as a reaction to the things people are doing around her and it seemed so abrupt that I never really had a clear picture of who Laurie was as a person. The only thing I really knew about her in the story was her fondness addiction to chocolates and coffee. The amount of chocolate and coffee that Laurie consumed in this novel almost made me want to check out the top ten diet pills because I know I’d blow up like a balloon if I ate like her. I also find her lack of ambition particularly disturbing at her age, too. At 23, I was already somewhat going through some major career and life decisions, while she’s perfectly normal about her being where she was. She didn’t seem to act her age — she seemed more suitable as a high school student.
Okay, maybe her being annoying may be on purpose, but I found Laurie extremely manipulative, too, and it was probably the thing that had me shaking my head most while reading the novel. Sure, she was being a matchmaker, and true to form, she was being meddlesome. I kind of had a problem with the way her being meddlesome was justified by how she understood God’s sovereignty. Case in point (spoiler warning ahead):
My father once told me there comes a time in every woman’s life when she desperately desires to be married.
No offense, Dad, but I think you were wrong.
I think there’s more. Most women desire matrimony — but with the guys God has created for them. My job is to be still and wait, knowing He is God.
And occasionally pushing a couple together. Just now and then of course…
What does that verse in Colossians say? “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to god the Father through him.”
…Matchmaking is a deed, right? Thanks God.
I find that particular conclusion a little off-putting, especially since I found everything Laurie did in the book manipulative and self-serving. She pushed the two characters together and would not give up not because she trusted God completely, but because she couldn’t fail this match since she’s never been wrong about her matches. Does that spell God’s sovereignty? It doesn’t seem like it. The rest of the spiritual aspect in the book also felt like it was forced and shallow.
They say it’s based on Jane Austen’s Emma, but since I haven’t read it yet, I can’t say how accurate it is. However, I’d like to believe that Emma wasn’t a Mary Sue, unlike how I found Laurie Holbrook. Nothing sucks the fun out of reading than being in a Mary Sue’s head. So…meh. It’s been five days since I finished reading this book, and I still can’t shake the annoyance I felt over this character. There are two more books in the Laurie Holbrook series and they say it gets better, but I think I’m going to pass for now. Maybe if I read this book before I’ve read some good chick lit with strong, non-Mary Sue characters, I would have liked it more since I didn’t really know better then. Or maybe, if I read this one when I was younger, I would have enjoyed it more. But right now, I just think Miss Match is disappointing.
My copy: ebook from Amazon Kindle store
Cover and blurb: Goodreads