Review: The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

Review: The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer is the Hanukkah rom-com I have been waiting for. Following a secret Christmas romance novelist who ends up volunteering at an extravagant Hanukkah party with her childhood enemy, this one contains drama and a good helping of holiday magic. I loved the descriptions of the event planning, and the main character is realistic. It is a shame to say that I have never read anything like this, but I would definitely recommend it to those looking for a touching yet uplifting holiday read.

Review: The Matzah Ball by Jean MeltzerTitle: The Matzah Ball
Author: Jean Meltzer
Publisher: MIRA
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
Rating: three-half-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

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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❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃


Review: The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

Bestselling Christmas romance novelist Rachel has found comfort in the magic of Christmas from a young age, but as the daughter of a rabbi, she feels the need to keep her work a secret. When her publisher asks her to write a Hanukah romance, she struggles to find a way to make Hanukkah as exciting as Christmas. With her contract on the line, Rachel comes across The Matzah Ball, an extravagant Hanukkah party that would be perfect source material. However, the event is being organized by her childhood enemy, who she still holds a grudge against.

❀ Enjoyable Main Character

Rachel is an enjoyable main character, and I loved her determination. I really felt for her since she keeps many parts of herself hidden out of fear of disappointing her family and feels unworthy of love because of her chronic fatigue syndrome. I found the representation of chronic illness strong, and I appreciated the way the story portrays her good days and bad days without allowing Rachel to be defined by her illness. However, I found the romance a bit frustrating at times. I had a couple issues with some of Jacob’s behaviour, but I slowly warmed up to him and still enjoyed the book as a whole.

❀ Hanukkah-themed story

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer is a Hanukkah-themed story with a lot of heart. I loved reading about the preparations for the spectacular event, and the main character is realistic. There is such a lack of Jewish and Hanukkah content out there, so I am happy to report that this one lived up to my expectations.

About Jean Meltzer

Jean Meltzer

Jean Meltzer studied dramatic writing at NYU Tisch and has earned numerous awards for her work in television, including a daytime Emmy. She spent five years in rabbinical school before her chronic illness forced her to withdraw, and her father told her she should write a book―just not a Jewish one because no one reads those. The Matzah Ball is her first novel.

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