Review: Eight Nights of Flirting
Eight Nights of Flirting
by Hannah Reynolds
Razorbill (imprint of Penguin Random House), 2022
This high society story takes place in snowy Nantucket over Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years’ Eve, indulging fantasies of wealth, access and elaborate parties. But the characters are down to earth, and like all teens, discovering how to be themselves. As Tyler teaches Shira to let others in, he also reveals some of his own truths, like how he was bullied as a younger child, and some of the challenges experienced by his two moms and their larger family. Shira and Tyler discover a family secret about a long lost sailor, and research historical texts and museums to solve the mystery. Shira’s many cousins, getting involved with each other and her romantic interests, provide joyful comic relief. Of course, eight nights of flirting lead to more than just friendship. Ultimately, Shira learns that what will truly make her happy is not to be successful, but to be brave.
With its positive and playful Jewish content, Eight Nights of Flirting is a lovely addition to the field of Jewish young adult books, and following The Summer of Lost Letters, is a nice second story about the Barbanel family. Much of the book takes place on Hanukkah, with prominent mentions given to candle lighting, gift giving, and dreidel playing. One focal point of the book is an elaborate Hanukkah play organized by the cousins. Since Tyler, and Shira’s best friend Olivia, are not Jewish, Shira is called upon to answer questions about Judaism – some of which she knows, and some she doesn’t. It is nice to see these friends treating Shira and her Jewish traditions so warmly, with no hints of antisemitism, especially considering the history of Jewish exclusion in Nantucket mentioned from the past.
This is a well-written, engaging story with positive messages about diversity and girls’ empowerment. It will especially be of interest to pre-teen and teen girls who love rom-coms, with Jewish representation and a little historical mystery thrown in. It would be a great addition to Jewish libraries that serve teens, and a fun Hanukkah gift for girls who love to read.
Ed. Note: This book was included in the Association of Jewish Libraries' Fall 2022 Holiday Highlights list for the best Jewish holiday books for children of the fall 2022 publishing season.