Oy! to the world
Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.
But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg.
Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze.
Let me preface this review by saying that I cannot speak to the Jewish representation in this book, or some of the finer nuances referenced in this book. I know there are some things referenced/talked about that are not the most sensitive to current events and that is affecting a lot of people’s enjoyment of this book. That being said I went into this looking for a fun rom com feel and second chances/hate to love holiday romance and for me it totally met that brief.
I enjoyed the story itself and the relationship between Rachel and Jacob. Yes there were misunderstandings and messy bits, but seeing them both working through their issues and their relationship. I did feel that the talk about Rachel’s illness and the representation there (as someone who has chronic illness/invisible illnesses) was well done. As a rom com with a holiday touch I did really enjoy the story and found it to be a fun read.
Author Jean Meltzer studied dramatic writing at NYU Tisch, and served as creative director at Tapestry International, garnering numerous awards for her work in television, including a daytime Emmy. Like her protagonist, Jean is also a chronically-ill and disabled Jewish woman. She is an outspoken advocate for ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), has attended visibility actions in Washington DC, meeting with members of Senate and Congress to raise funds for ME/CFS. She inspires 9,000 followers on WW Connect to live their best life, come out of the chronic illness closet, and embrace the hashtag #chronicallyfabulous. Also, while she was raised in what would be considered a secular home, she grew up kosher and attended Hebrew School. She spent five years in Rabbinical School.