The perfect Jewish husband should be:
- A doctor or lawyer (preferably a doctor)
- Baggage-free (no previous marriages, no children)
- And of course—he must be Jewish
As the creator and CEO of the popular Jewish dating app J-Mate, matchmaker Dara Rabinowitz knows the formula for lasting love—at least, for everyone else. When it comes to her own love life, she’s been idling indefinitely. Until her beloved bubbe shares Dara’s checklist for “The Perfect Jewish Husband” on national television and charming news anchor Chris Steadfast proposes they turn Dara’s search into must-see TV.
As a non-Jewish single dad, Chris doesn’t check any of Dara’s boxes. But her hunt for Mr. Perfect is the ratings boost his show desperately needs. If only Chris could ignore his own pesky attraction to Dara—a task much easier said than done when Dara starts questioning if “perfect on paper” can compete with how hard she’s falling for Chris…
You’re going to be “verklempt” in every sense of the word. Verklempt, assuming you were an SNL fan in the early 1990s when this word became more mainstream, means: overcome with emotion. Get your chocolate, get your tissues, and clear your schedule because you will be turning pages long into the night as you constantly wonder: “How in the world is Dara going to end up with Chris, who is clearly Mr. Right, even if he’s not perfect on paper?” I have rooted for some fictional couples in my time, but I rooted for Chris and Dara as if my very life depended on it. These two were perfectly flawed, but oh-so-lovable characters with friends and family that were just the right amount of supportive without being intrusive. Well, apart from that scene her grandmother does on live TV.
The more I read this book, the more I wanted to slow down and take notes about HOW the author did it. For me, it is one of those perfect books to take and pull apart to show all the beats and nuanced tension that kept the story going, making me truly worry (as someone who has read HEA books for over 30 years) if the hero and heroine were going to make this work. This author did all the right things and made it look seamless–and what’s more I know it couldn’t have possibly been seamless–so I applaud her (and her editors) all the more for how perfect this book came out.
If you have ever been to a writer’s conference or workshop where they talk about character development, one of the first keys to building realistic tension and relatable characters is identifying something (usually a quirk or a boundary for the character) that the character will never do. It doesn’t have to be “big” (like, they’d never rob a bank or kill someone) but it has to be a true boundary for the character. I always get stymied by what seems like a very simple question to answer for my characters; therefore, when I see it so artfully done in books I read, I take notice. I know how hard that was to create and then create the outcomes needed for the character arcs. And the arcs for both of these characters, the quirks and boundaries they each had to overcome, were handled spot-on. If you’re still reading this and you’re like, “I’m just a reader, Hellie, what ARE you talking about?”--just let me say the reunion scene in the end where the two characters are trying to get to each other to declare their love is AMAZE-BALLS. Like When Harry Met Sally or Sleepless in Seattle AMAZE-BALLS. Classic rom-com.
The Dark Moment scene–I was crying–and I had to read it aloud to my husband, who cries at Disney movies, and then we were both sobbing into our breakfast meals. We are soft-touches for a great dark moment and then an even bigger reunion. The scene with Dara and her grandmother, as Dara realizes what she thought she always wanted isn’t what she wants…and how going for what she truly loves may impact her life and understanding of what it means to be Jewish, had us sobbing harder into our bacon–I mean it, we were a mess. Then when Dara takes the leap of faith–and the ChallahBack Girls come to her rescue: SOLID GOLD.
And I haven’t even gotten to talk about all the LOL moments–which there is one basically on every page. I assure you I laughed much more than I cried–but when I cried, it was because I was invested and verklempt.
When I read Jean Metzler’s The Matzah Ball last year, I put her on my auto-buy list, even as I knew sophomore books sometimes don’t live up to the perfection of their predecessors. Worry not, dear readers. It is as perfect as a slow-roasted brisket, cooked for 12 hours on low. This one is definitely going on my list as one of the best books of the year.