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Book Review: Miss Match by Erynn Mangum

miss match holbrook Book Review: Miss Match by Erynn Mangum

They say that looks can be deceiving, and in the case of Erynn Mangums Miss Match, this is certainly true. At first glance the novel suggests a pithy chick-lit with a plot strongly oriented around romance and match-making. But perhaps the cover designer should have considered adding a jazzy little banner saying contains real Bible extracts! Ive had Jehovahs Witnesses at my door who were more subtle in spreading the word than this book is.

Lauren Holbrook is a twenty-three year old who has sworn off marriage and romance becausewell, Im not entirely sure. Something about not wanting to leave her father all on his lonesome now that her sisters have married and moved out of home. When not pontificating about why marriage is wrong for her, Lauren spends her days eating chocolate and hot dogs, working as a photographers assistant, and engaging in scripture quoting contests with her spunky boss Brandon. To really up the ante, she also gets involved in the odd bit of match-making, helping teens sign off on the dotted nuptials line in mere months. (No, Im not kidding, at twenty-three Lauren is already a spinster in her uber-religious friends eyes, and it seems as though the average time between meeting and getting married is about six months. I guess that no sex before marriage thing has something to do with that)

But Laurens cushy life begins to unravel when a new girl (who is a non-Christian! And wears high heels!) arrives in the office and looks as though she wants to get her claws into Brandon. After a bit of random posturing and whining, Lauren manages to make friends with her new coworker (dragging her along to Bible study class, no less), and the two set about match-making and encouraging the rest of their small town to marry off before they hit their twenties. But somewhere in between doughnuts, Bible quoting, and match-making, however, Lauren has the sudden epiphany that she may indeed wish to get married herself. Indeed, she craves the very ideanever mind the fact that she doesnt actually have anyone in particular that shed like to marry. Her new challenge, it turns out, is to admit to those around her that marriage isnt quite the anathema she imagined it to be.


As you might have gleaned from my summary, this book is slight to say the least. Though the plot is apparently based on Jane Austens Emma, Miss Match'is far less successful as a novel.'The characters are painfully thin, with Lauren in particular difficult to parseher motivation for not wanting to get married is very hazy, and her sudden decision that tying the knot is desirous comes out of nowhere.

Perhaps its that the author makes such a big deal of it all (and perhaps this is a big deal in devout Christian circles, who knows) thats the issue. If the approach to Laurens beliefs about marriage hadnt been so heavy handed, it might have been easier to simply see it all as the capriciousness expected of a young twenty-something. Instead, the author tries to get deep and meaningful with us, and woe-is-me pasts and scripture quotes drag things down, attempting to add weight to a book that is really about as frivolous as it gets.

In particular, Laurens match-making ways seem out of place given her beliefs about marriage, and their role in the plot is sketchy at best (and one has to wonder that given how ultra-religious this book is, whether the audience would take well to Laurens God ordained my match-making ways! God said so! perspective.) I know that the author needs to keep things moving, but really, so many teenaged couples get engaged in this book after knowing each other only a few months that theres some serious need of a relationship counsellor character, or at least some stretching out of the timeline to ensure that the audience isnt left feeling a wee bit icky. If I were these kids parents, Id be having some serious sit-down chats with them about getting to know their partner before committing to marriage (and lets face it, divorce isnt on the agenda here). Everyone is just so young, and oh, how they act it. Lauren, though apparently in her early twenties, acts far more like someone in her mid-teensand so do those around her.

Unfortunately, the novel isnt just implausible, but its judgemental as well. Despite Laurens giggly, pat approach to life and love, theres some serious prejudice against non-Christians in here. Not a Christian? Lauren wont be your Facebook friend. Two particular scenes come to mind: that in which Laurens coworker is dragged along to scripture class, and another where Lauren refuses to allow her matchmaking to involve a non-Christian.

Then, of course, theres the heavy-handed Bible quotation stuffthese characters lob scripture quotes at each other as though its fun, light banterand the somewhat painful scene in which Brandon gets on his religious soapbox, which succeeded in alienating me almost entirely as a reader. And lets not get started on the marriage for marriages sake thing, because Ill end up on a soapbox of my own and youll never hear the end of it.

Miss Match'may well be a hit with its intended audience, but potential readers should take note that though this book seems to be a straight-forward chick-lit, what youll be getting is a crash course in Sunday school.

Rating: star Book Review: Miss Match by Erynn Mangumhalfstar Book Review: Miss Match by Erynn Mangumblankstar Book Review: Miss Match by Erynn Mangumblankstar Book Review: Miss Match by Erynn Mangumblankstar Book Review: Miss Match by Erynn Mangum (serious flaws)

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Other books by Erynn Mangum:

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  1. Hm definitely not my type of book then!

  2. Stephanie /

    Definitely not, Shelleyrae! If it had been more upfront about the religious side of things I might have been okay with it, but I felt a bit cheated, to be honest.

  3. Interesting review. Having come from an uber religious background I have to say that by the age of 23 Lauren is quite the spinster. People do get married young with little to no time spent getting to know their soon to be partner. This book sounds like one I would have loved a long time ago (implausible and judgmental especially ;)) but wouldnt even touch it now. Im sorry you felt cheated. But its sounds like a fairly accurate portrayal of that community, so its sort of like you did sociological study rather than read a fictitious book. LOL.

  4. Stephanie /

    Thanks so much for your insightful comment, Jami! I was wondering whether this book was an accurate portrayal or whether it had been played up for entertainment purposes. Im quite fascinated by the idea of early twenties spinsterhood and the need to marry sooner rather than later and would love to try a mainstream or literary book looking at similar issues.

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