The Matzah Ball–Book Review

The Matzah Ball: A Novel by [Jean Meltzer]

Title:- The Matzah Ball

Author:- Jean Meltzer

Date published:- September 28th 2021

Publisher:- Mira

No. of pages:- 416 pages

Genre:- Jewish Fiction/Hanukkah

Rating:- 3.5/5 stars

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. 

Reading Jewish fiction is like my favorite genre. I love reading anything about Jewish culture and so this book was something different from the usual Christmas romance novels I read–this is a Hanukkah romance novel.

Meet Rachel Rubinstein Goldblatt, a Jewish woman, who poses as Margot and write best selling Christmas romance novels. But why is she posing under a different name? She comes from a strict Jewish family who doesn’t believe in all these cheesy Christmasy stuff. But her writing career is threatening when the publishing house she is under contract asks her to write a novel, based on Hanukkah. Now Rachel must seek help from her childhood nemesis, Jacob Greenberg, who is arranging one of the largest Matzah Ball in New York to get a ticket to go to Matzah Ball.

Well, let’s start with good things–the story is funny and there were some laugh out moments. The writing was spot on, well written. And since I am not Jewish, as a non Jewish person, I learned so much about the Jewish culture and traditions, the way the Jews observe Sabbath, celebrating Hanukkah and of course all those kosher Jewish cuisine.

Now, the bad side of this is, this to me is more like a Hallmark Romance movie with a cheesy setting–more like Bollywood romance, where the girl and boy can’t stand each other, then they fall for each other, then break up and finally reunite in love and everyone lives happily ever after. Ending like any romance novels is predictable. So yeah that kind of ruined things. Plus, the main character, Rachel sounded to me more like a spoilt protagonist so that made me dislike her character.

Overall, for ones who like cheesy Hallmark romance novels, with a Jewish setting, then this book is one for you–worth 3.5 stars!

Jean Meltzer is a nice Jewish girl with a not-so-secret love of Christmas. After a childhood steeped in Jewish tradition, kosher food, loving bubbes, and awkward Jewish summer camp romances, she found her way to NYU Tisch, where she studied dramatic writing and earned numerous awards for her work in television, including a daytime Emmy. She spent five years in rabbinical school, finally discovering the magic of Hanukkah for herself, before her chronic illness forced her to withdraw, and her father told her that she should write a book—just not a Jewish one because no one reads those. The Matzah Ball is her first novel. It combines all of the things she loves: warm and supportive families, tight-knit Jewish communities, Ashkenazi baked goods, big and swoony endings, Jewish shtick and humor, Judaism… and, of course, Christmas.

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