The seemingly ordinary life of 16-year-old Abby Day takes a surprising turn when she decides to take a mail-in DNA test. Photography, friendships, and a secret crush on her best friend Leo make up her life. However, her quest for her Irish roots leads her to a shocking revelation: she’s the sister of Savannah Tully, a famous digital influencer. “You have a match,” Emma Lord‘s new contemporary romance, delves into Abby’s journey as she navigates teenage dilemmas with humor and courage. The story tackles themes such as love, growth, acceptance, and complex family revelations, all while Abby faces challenges that could shake her understanding of the world.
With a touch of sensitivity and fun, “It’s a Match” follows Abby’s journey as she meets her sister and tries to understand the circumstances that led to her adoption. The narrative explores the encounter between Abby, Leo, and Savannah at a summer camp, and how this encounter sets off a series of events that challenge her perspective on her own identity and the relationships around her. The book not only deals with family complexities but also delves into the confusing emotions of adolescence, offering an engaging blend of romance, self-discovery, and a hint of mystery.
Author Emma Lord, known for her success with “Tweet Cute,” once again brings her light and engaging prose to create a story that captures the ups and downs of youth. “It’s a Match” is an exciting journey, filled with self-discovery, strengthening friendships, and the sometimes challenging reality of family connection. With the contemporary backdrop of social media and the search for identity, the book promises to captivate readers with its compelling narrative and authentic characters.
The plot of “You have a match” is full of discoveries and revelations for the character of Abby. How did you build her emotional journey in dealing with these revelations about her background and discovering an older sister?
It was important to me to focus not just on the shock of discovering a sister, but that both sisters had opportunities to learn more about themselves from the situation and from each other. So going into it I definitely built from my own relationships with my sisters, thinking about the ways we challenge and support each other. From there it was easier to build a natural dynamic between Abby and Savvy in this book, and decide how they were going to factor into each other’s individual stories, as well as the story they shared.
Abby is a character with quirky interests like photography and tree climbing. How did you develop her personality and hobbies to make her unique and endearing?
Deciding on these hobbies was a lot of fun because I got to draw inspiration from my own friends growing up. I was never any good at photography and as a kid I wasn’t much of an adventurer, but I got to experience some secondhand joy of those things from friends who loved those hobbies. I got to have that secondhand joy all over again by writing Abby, especially since it meant getting in touch with close friends I don’t get to chat with as often now that we all live far away!
The theme of acceptance and maturation is central to “You have a match”. How did you approach these themes in the story and what message do you hope to convey to readers, especially teenagers?
I very much wanted to approach these themes with the idea that growing up doesn’t happen in a linear way — you’re going to make mistakes and learn from them, but you’ll still make others, sometimes the same ones. You just have to learn what you can from them and from the people around you, and be patient with yourself when it doesn’t feel like everything is coming together the way you think it should.
In addition to family issues, the book also deals with friendship and romance. How did you balance these plot elements and how important are they to the main character’s growth?
I love elements of romance in YA not just for the sweetness of it, but because it’s an opportunity for the characters to learn more about themselves through each other. When you’re close enough to fall in love with someone, you care about their struggles and triumphs, and see your own reflected in them. It’s an opportunity for two characters to grow together and support each other, and writing in the YA space is such a beautiful opportunity for that, since it’s a time when so many important discoveries are being made.
The relationship between Abby and Leo, her best friend, is an important part of the story. How did you explore the dynamic of that friendship and the transition to possible romantic feelings?
For me it’s always fun to write a dynamic where friends fall in love with each other, because it gives the characters a solid foundation to start from. The added element of romance in a friendship means you get to see both the other person and yourself in a new light, which is always an interesting dynamic in YA, when things are already pretty chaotic in most characters’ lives. With Abby and Leo in particular it was fun because I got to build on their shared history at home, and then put them in camp where they’d never been together before, all while dealing with these new feelings. When things are changing that fast it gets to be a test not just of their potential romantic relationship, but the friendship under it, too.
You are known for bringing a touch of humor to your stories. How did you incorporate humor into “You have a match” and why is it important for you to add that element?
Oh gosh, for me humor is important because life is always kind of ridiculous. You never know what’s going to happen, good or bad, so it’s best to find things to laugh about whenever you can. I think it’s easy to incorporate humor into a story like this because the characters already find themselves in a very unusual situation, so it definitely sets the stage for funny jokes and pranks.
The book addresses the impact of social media on the characters’ lives, especially with the presence of digital influencer Savannah Tully. How did you explore this theme and the role of social media in young people’s lives?
I’m forever fascinated by the evolution of social media and how it affects teens in particular, since it’s such a critical time for developing your sense of self. There are a lot of reasons to be wary of social media and how much time and energy you put into it, but it’s a part of our lives forever now, whether we want it to be or not — because of that I do tend to try to focus on the positives that can come out of it, too. These days it’s easier to find people on social media who share your niche hobbies or fandoms and keep up with your friends in a way that you just couldn’t when you were separated by distance, and the bonds from that are very beautiful to me. It makes me hopeful that we can use social media more as a force for good, if we’re mindful about it.
“You have a match” was a New York Times bestseller and selected for Reese’s YA Book Club. How has the reader’s reception been towards the story and the characters?
People have been very kind and have shared so many fun memories of their own time at summer camp with me! Camp is definitely one of those settings that has a special place in a lot of people’s hearts. It makes me so happy to hear all the fun things other people got up to during their summers.
How was the writing process for “You have a match”? Did you have any specific inspiration for creating the plot and characters?
Back then I was working at the time as a “viral” editor, which basically meant I would find interesting stories on the internet and write or assign articles for our website. The year I started writing Deu Match, a lot of people were taking DNA tests and finding relatives they didn’t know about, including half siblings. One story in particular caught my eye — I think it was two half brothers who ended up in the same college dorm without even knowing they were related. Somehow I got to thinking how wild it would be if you found a full-blooded sibling if you took the test, and then within a few days the rest of this story fell into place.
You are also the author of the book “Tweet Cute”, which was also a success. What are the similarities and differences between these two works and what is your approach to writing for young adult audiences?
I think Tweet Cute is a lot more fast-paced and bright because of the city setting and because the two main characters are rivals, whereas Deu Match is a bit of a slower burn and more nostalgic, taking place over summer camp and having a lot more focus on family bonds. But similarly both novels have fun hijinks and focus not just on romance, but the characters exploring their passions and trying to shape futures for them. I think that’s always top of mind when I’m writing for young adult audiences — that the characters don’t necessarily discover the answers to everything they want and need out of life, but get to know themselves and learn from the people around them to feel brave enough to keep looking for them.
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