Title: The Matzah Ball
Author: Jean Meltzer
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Mira Books
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: September 28, 2021
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.
Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt has a secret career as a bestselling Christmas novel author. She has to keep it a secret because her father is the well-known Rabbi Goldblatt. Rachel also has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which she also keeps a secret because people often think that’s not a real condition. When her publisher decides they want a more diverse, Hanukkah themed story, she has to find inspiration. Jacob Greenberg was Rachel’s boyfriend at camp when they were twelve-years-old, until he broke her heart and humiliated her in front of everyone. Jacob returns to New York to put on the event of the season: The Matzah Ball. Rachel has to find a way to get a ticket to the Matzah Ball to find the inspiration she needs to save her secret writing career.
This was such a fun holiday rom com. I don’t think I’ve ever read a Hanukkah themed rom com, but I loved learning about these traditions. One important theme of the story was shame. Rachel was ashamed of her success as a Christmas novelist because she was Jewish. Christmas brought her joy, and it isn’t shameful to enjoy certain holidays, whether they are part of your religion or not.
Rachel was also ashamed of her illness because of how other people perceive it. Her condition is invisible, which always makes it more difficult for others to believe when they can’t see it for themselves. It’s important to remember that there are invisible diseases and conditions, so people shouldn’t be judged for their symptoms even if they aren’t visible.
The Matzah Ball was a wonderful holiday rom com!
Thank you HCC Frenzy for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli
The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox
Have you read The Matzah Ball? What did you think of it?