#IMWAYR: Matchmaker!

This is my fifth week of reviewing a book in a row—we're making it happen, y'all! And it's so good for my mental health—especially when the book is really good and compelling, reading is just about the most enjoyable thing I can do on my own, and it keeps me going through the weirdnesses of each week.

I stayed up way too late last night reading the entire second half of the book I'm reviewing today—I just couldn't put it down! So let's talk about it, and maybe talk you into reading it! 😜

Adult Books:

Matchmaker

Written and illustrated by Cam Marshall
Graphic novel · 2023 (previously published online)

· · · The publisher says: · · ·

The complete collection of cartoonist Cam Marshall's joyful queer slice-of-life webcomic!

Best friends Mason and Kimmy live through their early twenties in the early ‘20s, navigating a global pandemic and terrifying job market alongside making friends, dating, and playing way too many video games. But when shy and nervous Mason can’t find a boyfriend, it’s up to Kimmy to play matchmaker!

Who will it be? The cute boy down the hall with the Sailor Moon mask? A mysterious stranger from the dating profile that Kimmy masterminded? Or maybe the angsty barista from the neighborhood coffee shop?

A stubbornly hopeful and funny comic about the bonds between queer and trans friends, the families we make, and the happiness we find in each other.

· · · · · ·

(Just a heads-up, this book is about emerging adults in their early 20s, but it DEFINITELY has adult content in it, so I wouldn't automatically assume it will be a good fit for YA readers!)

Ugh, this book is SO AMAZING and SO SWEET, I can't even deal. I can't even deal!!! A copy of this was just hiding out at a random Barnes & Noble, and the spine and square shape were just so cute and I pulled it out and I was like, "Maybe this is the book for me..." And GOSH it was the book for me!!!

Matchmaker originally started out as a webcomic, although the print edition seems to have bonus content that I personally wouldn't want to miss out on. Because it was a webcomic first, and because creator Cam Marshall writes that they were inspired by slice-of-life manga, there's kind of an episodic structure where each page is its own self-contained strip with a punchline. But lest you think this is all comedy and no depth, there are also TONS of ongoing plot lines with rich character development that intersect all the goofiness and day-to-day moments. It's the perfect combo of being deep enough to get you thinking and melt your heart, and also quick and snappy enough to make you bust out laughing.

I am literally obsessed with every single character in this book. They all have their own delightful traits that draw you in—Mason is more laid-back, good at drawing, and loves Elden Ring (I honestly don't quite know what that is...), while Kimmy has more energy than I've ever had in my whole life and finds fulfillment in a grocery store job. And Marlowe's cool-kid exterior and relatably-anxious interior is so perfect as well. And the side characters...oh gosh, I shouldn't even go there. What I love about the characters is that, no matter if they're obnoxious or making a joking jab for an individual strip's punchline, when it comes down to it, they are the kindest souls alive, and they are ALWAYS there for their people. They're the living embodiment of what I admire so much about the queer community—how having lived through so much, we've taught ourselves how important it is to love each other deeply, when other people won't always do the same.

And then there's the themes. The themes! And I love the themes. Unsurprisingly, we've got a-lot-a-lot in here about romance, everything from first dates to believing you're worthy of love to navigating relationships long-term to weathering breakups and loneliness. And we've got queerness too—pretty much every identity in the LGBTQ+ acronym gets a deep and thoughtful examination, especially gender identity and being trans or nonbinary. The book is brilliantly set during the pandemic we all just lived through (and are...still living through), so it's also a look at how we found connection amidst social distancing, and how we endured the rest of us who weren't so considerate about masking when it was essential. And the book is also a kind of coming-of-age story in the nightmarish job market that I see people in my own life battling—we see characters finding fulfillment in unexpected roles, choosing to move on from jobs that try to tear them down, and ultimately charting their own paths even when it's tough. OH! And the book also has a few comics that get into depression that are so beautiful, my goodness.

And there's also lots of funny themes and recurring elements in Matchmaker too. We have Kimmy's unwavering determination to find Mason a boyfriend, and Mason's willingness to be on the search but also say no when things aren't right for him or someone else is in need. We have a wonderful recurring character, Ethel, who exemplifies how even people initially unfamiliar with the queer community can have kind souls and want to learn and understand. We have a lot of watching anime, and playing video games, and watching horror movies, and generally just seeing friends chilling with one another. And, frankly, the book rounds things out with a lot of sex and talking about sex, and it may not be a good fit for some readers, but to me, it felt completely realistic for young people looking for love. (And the book is quite funny about it, I must say...)

There are definitely readers who will find the fast pace and amount of humor in this book to not quite be what they're looking for, and that's totally fair. And for readers who aren't queer or are less familiar with the queer community, the book doesn't hold your hand and explain everything it's talking about—even I had imposter syndrome at times while reading it, and I'm literally young and queer like the characters are. That said, my imposter syndrome is in no way the fault of Matchmaker, which is just about the most compassionate story I could have expected to find. I still can't believe this was a random book I pulled off the shelf at Barnes & Noble—it kept me laughing, squealing, and feeling deep feelings through all 280 pages, and I'm going to be talking about it and recommending it wholeheartedly to people for a long time to come.

That's everything for now—I hope you find lots of books to love this week! ✨✨

Comments

  1. This sounds like a fabulous book and I love it when you gush, showing us how much you've enjoyed a read!

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  2. I have a young friend that will love this, Max. Hope they can find it easily! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy life!

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  3. Sounds like a wonderful graphic novel! I hadn't heard about this one yet, so thanks for the great review. Hope you enjoy some good books this week!

    Sue
    Book By Book

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  4. This sounds brilliant Max. As I was reading your review I couldn't help but think about the first David Levithan book I read, Boy Meets Boy. It's so full of kindness it made me me dream of of the possibility of a high school and world where everyone is accepted for who they really are. That was over a decade ago - I think things have improved, but fear there has also been a lot of resistance.

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  5. Oh wow, I love the joy in which you shared this book, dear Max. The illustrations look super inviting and fun and relatable. And yes, books - especially really good ones - are excellent for our mental health. I concur. <3

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  6. Well of course you've convinced me! As soon as I started reading your review, I instantly thought of seven or eight students I have right now who would love this book. (I teach seniors so I think the content will be appropriate.) It sounds like one I would love too. Adding it to the cart! And YES to your point about reading being good for mental health. I really do feel a difference when I spend less time pointlessly doomscrolling and more time happily absorbed in a book. And reading seems to be the best way I know to build back my pathetic little attention span too.

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  7. Ooh, thanks for recommending this. Maybe I'll read it for my Reading the Rainbow in June for Pride month.

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