Rains, Annie. The Matchbreaker Summer. Underlined, 2022. ISBN 978-0593481554 288 pp. $9.99
Paisley is acting like a spoiled brat. Her mother has found romance and is going to sell the family’s legacy, a bird-themed summer camp, to uproot the family and follow the boyfriend she met online to to care for his ailing mother. It feels like the end of the world, as these things do at sixteen. To make life even worse, she discovers her high school’s troublemaker graffiting dragons on the cabins on Camper’s Eve. In spite of selling him out to her mom, who is familiar with Hayden’s antics, his punishment is to fill an unexpected vacancy and become a counselor during the first session, which is geared to 12-15 year olds.
Somehow, Pais ends up entering a pact with her frenemy turned crush to break up her camp director mom and Dave by focusing on his incompetence as an outdoorsman. What he lacks in skill he makes up for in enthusiasm, and comes across as the nicest and most placidest of guys. But when a series of pranks befall Dave that cause discomfort and even harm, the incidents mirror the ill-wishes Pais has jotted in her insecurely hidden journal, so of course all evidence points to her–but she never wanted Dave to actually get hurt or anything. When she gets what she wanted (a breakup) she also loses the respect of the artist rebel she’d come to care about.
The boy-crazy girls act more like high schoolers that middle schoolers, especially best friend Nora. The modern day setting doesn’t quite align with the amount of time the counselors seem to abandon their charges, even if they are teenagers themselves. The short time frame seems very unrealistic for all of the drama, changes of heart and plausibility of the novel.
The ending is predictable–had the plot been spread over an entire summer, I’d have bought it hook, line, and sinker.
I received an advance reader’s review copy of #TheMatchbreakerSummer from #NetGalley