Desert Isle Keeper
Matzah Ball Surprise
Oh, my heart. I loved this book. I see the Christian side of my family reflected very often in romance, and in fiction in general. However, very rarely do I see stories where I recognize the Jewish side of the family. Matzah Ball Surprise is just such a book. It’s sweet, hilarious, uplifting, and made me nostalgic for things I hadn’t even realized I was missing. If you enjoy romantic comedy, you’re in for a treat.
Even though Gaby Fineberg thinks that her breakup with her ex-boyfriend was the right decision, her family has bemoaned her single state enough that she feels the need to acquire a fake date for the family Passover Seder. She drums up her courage to approach the cute guy she’s been admiring at the gym. Her initial invitation flounders as it turns out that Levi Miller is Deaf and completely missed Gaby’s awkward overture. However, the two figure out how to communicate via cellphones and not only do they set up their fake date for Passover, but their chemistry definitely starts to build.
Levi has a few secrets of his own, including a recently ended engagement. However, his background comes out much more slowly in the story than does Gaby’s, but perhaps because they spend most of the book at Gaby’s childhood home, this works. At times I found Levi a little overly mysterious, but his interactions with Gaby worked so well that my mind easily brushed off questions – as did Gaby, as it turns out.
Much of this book takes place at Gaby’s childhood home, so while we get plenty of interaction between the leads, we also get a lot of family time. The author balances this incredibly well, and the familial interactions enhance rather than swamp the romantic plot. Some of my own family are Jewish and the mixture of tradition and good-natured family jokes felt very familiar to me as I read. The blend of tradition and family togetherness makes this a warmly emotional story.
The deepening relationship between Gaby and Levi is true joy to watch. Because Levi is Deaf and Gaby is not, there are some communication difficulties to work through. Gaby tries to learn some ASL from Levi, and the two use cellphones to carry on conversation. The author writes out their conversations (and sometimes miscommunications) very well, and we get to see how their ability to communicate improves as their connection deepens.
If I wanted to nitpick, I could point out that the resolution of Levi’s past engagement was more than a bit convoluted. Honestly, though, I was having so much fun reading and just enjoying these characters that I felt disinclined to let even that pull me out of the story. I read this entire book in a quick afternoon and adored it. Even when I went back later to read more slowly for this review, I enjoyed myself once again.
If you enjoy romantic comedy, I definitely recommend that you pick up Matzah Ball Surprise. It’s a sweet, funny story that made me smile, and if you’re looking for #ownvoices representation, this book features characters who are Jewish as well as Deaf/Hard of Hearing. There are so many different experiences in this world, and I hope that we continue to see more of them reflected in fiction, especially romance, which is my first love.