Eight Nights of Flirting
- Author: Hannah Reynolds
- Genre: YA Romance
- Publication Date: October 25, 2022
- Publisher: Razorbill
Thank you to YA Books Central and Razorbill for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can find my YA Books Central review here.
CONTENT WARNING: mention of bullying
Shira Barbanel has a plan:
This Hanukkah, she’s going to get a boyfriend. And she has the perfect candidate in mind—her great-uncle’s assistant, Isaac. He’s reliable, brilliant, and of course, super hot. The only problem? Shira’s an absolute disaster when it comes to flirting.
Enter Tyler Nelson, Shira’s nemesis-slash-former-crush. As much as she hates to admit it, Tyler is the most charming and popular guy she knows. Which means he’s the perfect person to teach her how to win Isaac over.
When Shira and Tyler get snowed in together at Golden Doors, they strike a deal—flirting lessons for Shira in exchange for career connections for Tyler. But as Shira starts to see the sweet, funny boy beneath Tyler’s playboy exterior, she realizes she actually likes hanging out with him. And that wasn’t part of the plan.
Amidst a whirl of snowy adventures, hot chocolate, and candlelight, Shira must learn to trust her heart to discover if the romance she planned is really the one that will make her happiest.
Growing up, the only time I saw Jewish characters in books was when I read books about the Holocaust. So finding books about Jewish joy, Jewish romance, and Jewish holidays will literally never get old for me. Neither will finding people like me represented on the pages of a book. I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a copy of this book, especially just before Hanukkah.
The story is told from the POV of Shira, a 16-year-old Jewish girl from a wealthy family who has just arrived in Nantucket for her family’s yearly holiday gathering at her grandparents house. However, a snowstorm hits at the same time, and she’s the only one who gets there before everything shuts down. She’s forced to catch a ride in a cab with her neighbor/enemy/former crush, and when his house has no power, she lets him stay in her family’s empty house with her. Since it’s the first night of Hanukkah, he gets an intro to the holiday as she lights candles with him and he helps her decorate the house. They start talking, and Shira realizes that Tyler *might* not be so bad. Although I had plenty of laughs about the differences between Hanukkah and Christmas, especially when Tyler offers to play DJ as they decorate:
“Wow, he was going to get an earful when he realized our songs were more about smiting enemies than decking halls.”
Shira also perfectly expressed my own frustration with being Jewish during the Christmas season. I don’t actually mind the holiday of Christmas itself, but rather all the hullabaloo surrounding it. Overwhelming is the perfect way to explain it, and I think that most people don’t even realize that Hanukkah is actually a minor holiday in our tradition. This quote spoke to my soul:
“I liked Christmas; I loved the happiness it brought to so many people. But it could feel overwhelming: the ceaseless music, the way people acted like I must be as excited about Hanukkah, a minor holiday, as they were about Christmas, but never noticed Passover or the High Holidays.”
As a professional overachiever, Shira takes a pragmatic approach to everything. Whenever she’s had a problem in the past, she’s solved it through professional lessors or tutoring, and working harder at it. So when she realizes that she’s socially awkward around guys and has no idea how to flirt, yet feels comfortable around Tyler, she enlists his help in a strange proposal that works out for both of them: he’ll teach her how to flirt, and she’ll introduce him to her uncle, who owns a company that he wants to intern at.
“When I’d needed to improve my math SAT, my parents got me a tutor; for piano and skating, I’d taken lessons. Practice made perfect; practice was practical.”
But I could identify with Shira’s feelings of being an outsider in social circles, yet being completely part of a group with her family. She’s got walls up around people the majority of the time, except when she’s with her huge family. There’s a mess of people that are always around when she’s visiting Nantucket, and it allows her a sense of peace and relaxation that she doesn’t have anywhere else in her life.
“This was why I loved Nantucket. I got to have this riot of cousins around me, this clan to which I belonged and which belonged to me. I didn’t have to monitor anything, didn’t have to try, could simply breathe—or gasp for air, as the case may be.”
This story was fun and funny, and totally sweet and fluffy. My only complaint was that it was completely predictable, and basically everything happened as put forth in the blurb. However, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I read a lot of heavy books, as you’re probably aware of if you read many posts on my blog, so having a completely low-stress and fun book to read was nice and relaxing. There’s winter vibes galore, and while it does focus on the Hanukkah aspect of the story, it also includes Christmas and New Years, making this the perfect holiday read. I loved the way it relates to how the winter holidays create their own sort of magic, and this book felt like magic in my hands.
“Who didn’t crave a touch of magic, a sudden, wondrous change to their everyday lives? It felt more possible miracles existed at this point in the year than at any other, as thought the goodwill at the holidays generated a kind of magic.”
I loved watching Shira start to come out of her shell and start deciding who she wanted to be. She began directing the course of her own life, and taking action instead of sitting back and letting things happen, and it was wonderful to watch. She grew so much over the course of the story, and not only her but Tyler as well. And perhaps my favorite part was seeing the supports that were available to her when she started standing up for herself. This is one of those books that I’ll definitely be adding onto my yearly Hanukkah rotation.
Categories: Book Review