Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Audio Book Review: The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

Genre: Adult Fiction/Audio
Pub. Date: September 28, 2021
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
Source: Personal Copy 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "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 lives a somewhat normal life, but she has a big secret that even her family doesn't know. Her father is a powerful rabbi and a prominent member of the Jewish community, so this secret she worries could be especially harmful to her family. You see Rachel loves Christmas! So much so that she writes Christmas novels, under a pseudonym, and is pretty successful at it. In fact, she has a whole room filled with her collectible Christmas items like Santa figurines. She has kept this hidden from her family for years and has yet to meet "the one." All is well until her publisher wants her to shake things up and write a Hanukkah romance instead, which shouldn't be hard because she is Jewish. This really throws Rachel for a loop and is desperate to find inspiration. With her summer camp nemesis, Jacob Greenberg, back in town, she thinks she might find inspiration at his highly sought after Matzah Ball. Everyone is trying to get a ticket and she thinks that reconnecting with Jacob might get her that; after all, her parents are even going! Except Jacob looks to her to volunteer at it, which poses a problem, because Rachel suffers from a chronic illness, which holds her back at times. Can Rachel ever make it to the Matzah Ball and write a Hanukkah tale or will her former feud with Jacob Greenberg come to a boil? Jean Meltzer's The Matzah Ball is such a delightful audio book--one of my favorite holiday stories of the year!

Rachel is a character I liked from the start of The Matzah Ball. What I appreciated so much about this novel was Meltzer's ability to describe a character's "invisible" chronic illness so accurately. I have never seen this in a novel before and Meltzer did an outstanding job showing how it impacts not only daily life, but every decision whether big or small. It flows into all aspects of the person's life and it's a disability that isn't seen with the eye, so people often dismiss it. I applaud Meltzer for incorporating this into the novel as I think it's often overlooked. I also adored Meltzer's struggle with her secret love of Christmas and her feud with Jacob from summer camp. Rachel volunteering for Jacob put her in some funny positions as she tried to gain entrance to the ball and had to put up with some of his antics.

Jacob is also a great, and quite complex, character in The Matzah Ball. His back story is heartbreaking as his mother died from cancer and this impacted Jacob greatly. He explains how this trickles into his everyday life and some of the guilt he has surrounding it. I really felt for him and I think Metlzer did a good job with a tough subject. Now he has come home to throw his Matzah Ball, which has become the event of the season and I enjoyed how this all played out. While towards the end there were some over the top moments, I still enjoyed the novel and the journey it took to get to the ball.

The Matzah Ball in audio was wonderful. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a holiday read that will warm your heart, make you laugh-out-loud, and provide you with an adorable romance. I look forward to reading what Meltzer comes up with next! Hopefully it's another Hanukkah tale as we need more of this! So, have you read The Matzah Ball or is it on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  



  1. I've had this one on my TBR for awhile and I'm surprised I haven't read it yet - your review makes me even more excited to finally get to it!

    1. I hope you get to read it soon! It was delightful! I look forward to your thoughts on it. Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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