From the publisher:
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.
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“The Matzah Ball had me laughing out loud…an all-around terrific read.”—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Finally a terrific Jewish holiday romance! Rachel is a Jewish writer who happens to love Christmas and writes Christmas romances. But as the daughter of a rabbi, she is afraid of anyone finding out, so she writes under a pseudonym. Her publisher wants to diversify, and asks Rachel to write a Hanukkah romance.
Truth be told, Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday that gets so much attention primarily because of its place on the calendar, aligned as it is with Christmas. Rachel is very much aware of this, and can’t imagine how to go about writing a romance around Hanukkah. Then she finds out that her first love and summer camp nemesis, Jacob, is hosting a big fancy party on the last night of Hanukkah, called the Matzah Ball.
Thinking this event will give her the inspiration she needs, Rachel tries to get a ticket but there are none to be had. Jacob offers to let Rachel volunteer for the week before the event; volunteers get a ticket so she agrees. Some of the funniest, laugh out loud moments happen while she’s volunteering. As they work together, they grow closer, but one thing after another happens to cause them both heartbreak.
Rachel also suffers from a debilitating, chronic illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. It’s also referred to as chronic fatigue syndrome, and the author shares that with Rachel. Witnessing how this disease affects her life adds another dimension to this story.
I read this book the day after I attended a beautiful wedding in Chicago. The mother of the bride, my beloved machatunim (hi Nancy!) spoke about bashert, which I always understood to mean soulmate. But here, another explanation is given, and I loved it.
“Bashert literally means destiny…in Judaism, that’s not the point of finding your bashert.”
“So what is the point?”
“Your other half exists to make you better. She exists to complete something you lack, and vice versa. You challenge each other, like chavruta, two blades which sharpen each other. But that’s different than love, Jacob. In some ways, it’s more powerful. Because only your bashert, your other half, can fill up what you lack…and help you fulfill your destiny.”
This is a sweet, very funny romance with a lot of heart. It wouldn’t be a Jewish story without frequent mentions of food, family, and Yiddish expressions, and it does not disappoint. Don’t miss it!