The Friendship Matchmaker

178p. CIP. Walker. 2012. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-2832-6. LC 2011031428.
Gr 4–7—Seventh-grader Lara Zany is a LBC, or Loner by Choice, due to the demands of her duties as the Friendship Matchmaker of Potts County Middle School. Ever since fifth grade, she has worked hard to ensure that everyone has at least one compatible friend and avoids the deadly trio or the TL, Total Loner, designation. She keeps rather meticulous, viciously honest notes in her Friendship Matchmaker Manual, which she hopes will someday be a best-selling publication. The first-person narrative alternates with pages from the manual, which includes a glossary, various and sundry rules, and case notes. Just as readers start to wonder how and why this control freak has so much influence, a new girl, Emily Wong, arrives. She proves mysteriously resistant to Lara's efforts to make sure she fits in and finds a friend ASAP. The plot moves swiftly and is anything but predictable. Tween readers will recognize many of the befuddling social predicaments that Lara attempts to remedy. However, her comeuppance results in an ending that is a bit too tidy.—Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ
Seventh grader Lara prides herself on her ability to help others make friends (even though she doesn't really have a friend herself). When new-student Emily arrives boasting the same skill but with different methods, Lara's status as Friendship Matchmaker is in question. The book occasionally veers into after-school-special territory, but Abdel-Fattah demonstrates understanding of middle-school struggles.

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