'Tis the season to get festive, so big thanks to the publisher for having me as part of the blog tour for The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer.
|Pub Date: 9-28-21|
Adult - Contemporary
Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt might be Jewish, but that doesn't stop her from loving all things Christmas. For the past ten years, Rachel has hidden her obsession and that she's a bestselling Christmas romance writer from her family. Rachel, who suffers from a chronic illness, has always loved the magic surrounding Christmas and uses that to weave the perfect romances she's always wished for herself. But when her publisher asks her to write a Hanukkah romance, suddenly Rachel's never-ending creativity fails her.Rachel will do anything to keep her contract, even if that means working with her summer camp archenemy, Jacob Greenberg. Jacob is the mastermind behind The Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration held on the last night of Hanukkah, and Rachel is determined to use the event as inspiration for her story. Though the pair haven't seen each other in years, the grudge they hold still burns brighter than ever. As the two work together, Rachel starts to see Hanukkah--and Jacob-- in an entirely new light, and maybe they're the spark she needed to relight the fire within herself.
I was intrigued by this since most holiday books are about Christmas, so it felt like a fresh take on the trope, but it left me very mixed. It totally nails the Hallmark movie vibe, and there were some cute moments, but there were other times it left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. Let's start with what I enjoyed. I loved the representation of chronic illness and how it affects a person's day-to-day life. It felt very honest and real. I also thought the writing was easy to digest, and I flew this in almost one sitting. However, the writing was also my main issue. There were a few times where Rachel would make a joke or act in a way that seemed very callous and left a bad taste in my mouth. Both her and Jacob came across as a bit mean and childish which I also didn't love. It was almost as if they fell back into being their teenage selves when they were together pulling pranks on one another. They did mature and have decent character growth by the end which I appreciated. Overall, I think the idea of this was great, but the execution needed more work.