Review: Eight Dates and Nights

Eight Dates and Nights

by Betsy Aldredge

Underlined (imprint of Random House Children's Books), 2023

Category: Young Adult
Reviewer: Kathryn Hall

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High school senior Hannah Levin doesn't want to spend Hanukkah with her grandmother in Texas instead of with her family and friends in New York, but consoles herself that it is a mitzvah to honor the elderly. The story is told from Hannah's point of view, and she tells us perhaps too much about her feelings, which change over the eight dates and nights. In this rom-com, she falls for Noah, the cute boy working in his grandfather's struggling Jewish deli in Rosenblum, Texas. He promises to make her Hanukkah magical, and each date is unique and memorable. Both Hannah and Noah show personal growth, and socioeconomic and family issues are discussed and dealt with realistically. This is a fun feel-good read, which requires only a little suspension of disbelief, suitable for a winter holiday read. It meets the criteria for a Sydney Taylor Book Award and could be a contender for a Notable or Honor book.

Representation is mainly white, except for a couple of minor characters who are Hispanic. All ages are represented. The cover art by Farjana Yasmin gives a good overview of the content. The author's acknowledgements at the end explain her familiarity with Texas.

Eight Dates and Nights is full of Jewish characters, history, culture, holidays, values, and especially food. It is easily understandable to Jews and non-Jews alike, and includes variations in observance. This entertaining story makes a  nice addition to the growing genre of Hanukkah themed romances.

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Reviewer Kathryn Hall is a retired pediatrician, lifetime member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, volunteer librarian for her synagogue and for her local LGBT+ center, and active in her local PFLAG chapter. She has a special interest in Jewish children's literature with LGBT+ content. She lives in Central California with her husband, the youngest of her three children, and two of her eight grandchildren.