Seventh-grader Lara discovers just how difficult it can be to change established habits.
As the former FMM—or friendship matchmaker—of her middle school, Lara was accustomed to managing the social lives of her peers. Now she has vowed to refrain from matchmaking, but Lara still feels compelled to intervene. When a new student’s arrival alters the social balance, Lara clandestinely resumes her role as FMM in order to fulfill an unusual request: seek out a potential friend for Chris, a student known for his malicious, bullying behavior. Abdel-Fattah adeptly addresses the social concerns of early adolescents in this perceptive tale. As Lara attempts to find a match for Chris, the circumstances that influence his negative actions are subtly revealed. When Lara cleverly pairs Chris with Antony, an enthusiastic yet unskilled athlete, the opportunity to be a mentor has a profound effect on Chris and his behavior. In addition to arranging the relationships of others, Lara must also resolve her own friendship insecurities. Amid these familiar friendship concerns, Abdel-Fattah also addresses other complex issues, most notably with the new student’s arrival. Through Majur’s experiences as a refugee adjusting to life in a new country, she examines the effects of war on children and their families.
Although she struggles in her efforts to resolve her managing ways, Lara’s genuine kindness and compassion remain evident in this poignant sequel. (Fiction. 10-13)