Thank you to Underlined/NetGalley for a copy of Eight Dates and Nights in exchange for an honest review.
New Yorker Hannah Levin is allergic to exactly two things: horses and tinsel. Unfortunately, she’s surrounded by both when she’s snowed in at her grandmother’s home in a small Texas town.
Super lonely, missing latkes and reliable Wi-Fi, Hannah wanders into an old deli where she meets the only other Jewish teen around, Noah, who happens to be equal parts adorable and full of annoying, over-the-top festival of lights spirit that he’s determined to share with Hannah one itchy Hanukkah sweater at a time.
As the days pass — and a spectacularly memorable kiss following Noah’s made-up game of truth or dare dreidel takes place — Hannah begins to wonder if maybe there’s more to Hanukkah than she thought …
Betsy Aldredge’s Eight Dates and Nights‘ Hannah has a Jewish answer or explanation for everything, and I love it. There may be some who wonder if this is realistic. Those people aren’t Jewish. Do teens talk about being Jewish this much? Yes, yes, they do. It’s delightful.
What I find more unrealistic is that a teen so in touch with her Judaism doesn’t realize that a town called “Rosenblum” has Jewish roots. I know people from cities can get a bit narrow-minded about the South, but c’mon. I mean, Jewish people exist in Texas, y’all. A few other moments hit me as over the top, but they venture into spoiler territory. Minor quibbles, though.
As an aside, as someone who tries to use inclusive language, I will now incorporate “Shalom, y’all” into my daily life.
Who Is It For?
There’s no getting around it: Eight Dates and Nights is a Hallmark holiday movie, but make it for teens. And like the annual one or two Hallmark Hanukkah movies, there’s some overexplaining for the gentiles in the back.
That doesn’t mean Jewish teens won’t get a kick out of Betsy Aldredge’s book. On the contrary, this is a book where they might finally see themselves on the page. (Halleluyah!) That’s worth a lot. When you’re a member of a minority — any minority — seeing yourself in media is a powerful thing. And while I’ve seen other minority groups getting more and more books about them, I haven’t seen an influx in Jewish YA in recent years. That makes Eight Dates and Nights something extraordinary.
Should You Read It?
If you like taffy-sweet books with a grumpy/sunshine couple, then yes, absolutely. This might be a more challenging book to swallow if you’re not a fan of such a pairing. Speaking of swallowing, cynical foodies out there might still love Eight Dates and Nights. Especially those who love pickles. (No. None of that was euphemistic.) In any case, this is a cute book, perfect for the holiday.
Eight Dates and Nights hits shelves on October 03, 2023. You can pick up a copy at your local indie bookstore or library.📚 🕎👩❤️👨
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