Saturday, July 17, 2010

REVIEW: A Match Made in High School

A Match Made in High SchoolMy streak of reading romantic comedies continues!  (Although, I think I may need a break from all the confusion and false love interests soon.)

I had a lot of trouble writing this review.  I had strong emotional responses to this book based on my knowledge of how high school politics and how policy changes work.  That having been said, I liken my engagement with this book to the way I reacted to Twilight:  somehow being completely amused and entertained while at the same time being completely pissed-off at aspects of the story.

More details below.

Walker, K.  (2009).  A Match Made in High School.  New York:  Razorbill.

278 pages.

Appetizer: On the first day of her senior year, Fiona and her best friend Marcie along with the rest of the class are informed that they must participate in a marriage preparedness program or they won't graduate.  To make a bad situation worse, Fiona is randomly paired up with Todd Harding, a guy she hates instead of her crush, Gabe.

Todd seems equally upset by their pairing and the two begin pranking each other and making one another's lives miserable.  As Fiona becomes a little obsessive with hatching pranks and reflecting on her and Todd's hate-filled relationship, her one and only friend, Marcie, gets fed-up with her behavior, causing their first ever major rift.

I have to admit, when I started this book I had A LOT (think a garbage truck full) of trouble suspending disbelief and accepting that a principal, no matter how upset over a divorce or no matter how cooky the district or community, or how conservative the school board, would EVER be able to randomly pair-up seniors for a year-long mandatory marriage preparation course and exercises (that required the students earn money that they don't get to keep themselves) without extensive debates, references to studies and permission slips sent out beforehand.

Come on.

First off, what about gay and lesbian students?  The school eliminated the possibility of any other type of domestic partnership.  And what about students who have no intention of marrying?

At the very least, I wish the book would have made some casual mention of permission slips being sent home to parents.  Then that garbage can of disbelief could have been emptied of a few bags.

Now, a lot of my issues are addressed later in the text:  A casual mention that the school board is conservative, the inclusion of a gay character, etc.  So, eventually, I was able to calm down and just enjoy the funny Pride and Prejudice inspired romantic comedy.

Having said that though, I was right there with Fiona, feeling injustice at her situation.  (And also, having officially ended my rant, it was this unlikely premise that made me want to check the book out.  It was the details of how it was presented that set me off--mainly the overly resentful female principal freaking out due to her personal life and forcing her students to pay the price on such a grand scale.)

The book has a lot of fun humor.  And there are a lot of great foils for Fiona to try to understand the way that marriage works.  Some of the pranks are a little too over the top for my taste (literally, if this weren't a comedy, a character could have been seriously depressed by some of the ways she was tortured early on in the text), but there were a lot of moments and lines that made me chuckle.

I think if I'd read this book as a fifteen or sixteen-year-old, I would have absolutely loved it.  I know I would have imagined what it would be like if I'd been randomly paired with that one popular, hot guy that I'd secretly had a crush on for some program similar to this one.

Dinner Conversation:

"I should have known.
I should have known the minute I went to get my favorite White Stripes peppermint tee and found it not in the drawer, but temporarily forgotten in the back of my closet, curled up in a crusty ball.  Caked with two-week-old, nuked syrup that had shot out of the bottle, bounced off my waffle, and splattered me like a sweet paintball.
I should have known when I came downstairs and found my parents tasting each other's tonsils in front of the kitchen sink, and nearly barfed on my sneakers.
Or when my best friend, Marcie--actually she's my only friend, which is fine; you only need one--called to say she was running late and couldn't pick me up.  So I had to ride my freaking bike to school for my first day as a senior.
I should have known right then that I was pedaling toward disaster" (p. 1).

"Obviously, with these statistics facing us, we, as educators, cannot ignore the pressing need for instruction in the area of marriage.  So as a new prerequisite for graduation, seniors must complete a yearlong course in marriage education."
We unfroze pretty quickly here.  I mean, this was a new low for ECHS.  I thought the cafeteria food that tasted like navel lint was plenty bad.  Or the eye-watering stench of the third-floor girls' bathroom.  Or the gym uniforms that looked like they were leftover from the 1970s porno flick.  Weren't those humiliating enough?  Apparently not.  Our groans rolled through the auditorium like a thundercloud.  But it wasn't until she said the next thing that the lightning hit.
"Each male and female senior will be paired up and 'married' for the duration of the year.
WHAT THE HOLY HELL?" (pp. 7-8).

"Marcie pulled me again and we ducked into the girls' bathroom.  "Did you see that?" I cried.
"I'm sorry, Fee," Marcie said.  "You cannot possibly complain to me."
"Todd Harding?  How am I supposed to spend the year with that no-necked Neanderthal?"  I leaned over the sing, willing it to suck me down the drain.  The fluorescent light buzzed above us.
Marcie said, "He has a neck.  And an ass and abs.  Nice ones.  And even if you haven't noticed them, pretty much every other girl has" (p. 14).

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

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