Eight Dates and Nights by Betsy Aldredge is perfect for readers with Christmas rom-com fatigue who also love the grumpy/sunshine trope!
Big city girl, small town world
Hannah Levin holds tightly to her Jewish heritage. Every year, she and her family take their Hanukkah celebrations seriously. But this year, her parents are shipping her off to a small town in Texas to spend a few days with her non-Jewish grandmother. At first she thinks she can just power through the four-day trip, but when a huge snowstorm leads to a canceled flight, she’s stuck with a longer trip than she expected.
Meanwhile, in town, she meets Noah, the only local fellow Jewish teenager. His family runs a deli, the only Jewish business left, but sadly, it’s in danger of closing. Now Hannah and Noah immediately butt heads due to their different opinions on how Hanukkah should be celebrated. Hannah views it as a somber affair, commemorating past tragedies, while Noah sees it as a joyful holiday. So they strike a deal. Hannah agrees to help Noah save his family deli, and he insists on showing Hannah the joy of Hanukkah with eight nights of celebration…
The best rom-coms don’t focus solely on the romance. Usually, the main character has some kind of goal to achieve and flaw to overcome, and the romantic lead helps her learn something crucial. In this story, however, we learn almost nothing about Hannah’s backstory. She vaguely mentions her anxieties about college, but never specifies what her dream college is or what she wants to study. While I got a strong sense of Hannah’s personality, I still feel like I don’t know her all too well. It centers on her relationship with Noah, which is precious, but we lose out on deeper character growth.
Noah, in contrast to Hannah’s grumpiness, is a ray of sunshine. He basically overwhelms Hannah with boundless energy and affection. Good good good. Unfortunately, his character suffers from the same issues. We don’t learn what he wants to do with his life. He shares that he doesn’t get along with his dad, but strangely, his parents never make an appearance, despite living in the same tiny town. I feel like we missed out on an epic showdown between Noah and his dad.
A welcome break from Christmas madness
Why must all rom-coms be Christmas rom-coms? Why can’t we ever get a nice Halloween love story, or Thanksgiving, or literally any other holiday? It was refreshing to see something different. As someone who knew nothing about Hanukkah or Jewish culture, it was so refreshing to learn more about a new religion and holiday! I also loved seeing how a variety of different characters celebrate it. I will be keeping my eye out for more books like this.
If you’re looking for a short, easy read that will warm your cold heart, check this one out! It’s never too early to start your holiday season!
Featured image courtesy of Penguin Random House.
"Eight Dates and Nights" review - 7/10