Review: Matzah Ball Surprise

Matzah Ball Surprise

This Passover is starting to feel like the ten plagues might be coming back to haunt them before the weekend is over…one hilarious misstep after the next.

Gaby Fineberg just wants to get through Passover Seder without her “well meaning” family playing matchmaker. She needs a date, just for one simple meal—that includes singing, the history of her forefathers, and not one bit of yeast. The hot guy at her gym would be perfect. He probably hates bread, anyway, with a body like that. But when she finally works up the nerve to ask him…he doesn’t hear a word she said.

Levi Miller is deaf and happily single. Initially, he doesn’t know why this beautiful woman is talking to him, but it’s clear she needs help—and suddenly so does he. In a very complicated situation, Levi finds a simple solution. Gaby will pretend to be his new girlfriend to bail him out, and he’ll return the favor. But he didn’t bargain for a family dinner quite like this one…

Title: Matzah Ball Surprise
Author: Laura Brown
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Matzah Ball was, hands down, one of my most highly anticipated contemporary romance releases in a very long time. I am currently trying to pick up some ASL and seeing that the main character is Jewish (I mean the book title literally screams “Passover food!”) made me super intrigued about the story. It’s diversity on a whole new level!

The book follows Gaby Fineberg, a woman who comes from a big Jewish family and who recently broke up with her boyfriend. Passover is just around the corner and since big families can get super nosy, she decides to ask out Levi Miller — a guy she just met at the gym — to pose as her fake boyfriend over the holidays so she can avoid awkward questions. With nothing seemingly connecting them — not even verbal language — the following days are destined to be one whirlwind of chaos and misunderstandings.

It was really easy to fall for the two main characters, Gaby and Levi. The book is told in dual POV, allowing each of them to have their own unique voices. Whereas Gaby was exactly the quirky, somewhat insecure but yet super fun character that I expected her to be, Levi was a whole different level. Seeing him being the professional disciplined deaf man with his own personal issues who eventually loosens up, you could feel the chemistry right between the two of them. I loved the easiness between them, seeing them fall for each other, as well as the way small gestures suddenly played a much bigger role in their lives since “standard” talking is not possible. Picking up these small hints and overcoming the challenges in communication was such a delicate feature of this book.
Now let’s talk about the big bear in the room: What initially drew me to this book was my curiosity to see how the author would translate non-verbal communication into dialogues in the book. In the end, it was really well executed! This book gave me a lot of insight on not only the everyday life challenges of deaf people, but also on how the deaf/hard of hearing community rolls. Their scenes were always really fun, and seeing their culture being integrated so well into the story was such a surprise twist. Before picking up the book I was afraid to have awkward feelings towards reading about a deaf character but none of this was to be true! Instead we learn a lot about life from their perspectives, e.g. how typing on phones are crucial for communicating with the outside world or seeing ASL beginners struggle with ASL. It was really cool how the author left some hints here and there on how to sign certain words too!
In addition, we also learn a lot about Jewish culture in modern America — something I have never seen being played out in a book before, so that was really interesting! With Gaby’s weirdly adorable family, it was no wonder this book left me charmed.

The only flaw I saw with this book was that the story takes place in a relatively short amount of time so the backgrounds of the caracters were not necessarily fully explored. I would have loved to see Gaby and Levi’s relationship being played out more, but given the story’s background, it definitely made up for it. Ultimately, Matzah Ball was a super light contemporary read that you will read in one sitting. Definitely recommend!

Find the book here:

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About the Author:

Laura Brown author photo

After spending her childhood coming up with new episodes to her favorite sitcoms instead of sleeping, Laura Brown decided to try her hand at writing and never looked back. A hopeless romantic, she married her high school sweetheart. They live in Massachusetts with their two cats and son. Laura’s been hard of hearing her entire life but didn’t start learning ASL until college, when her disability morphed from an inconvenience to a positive part of her identity. At home the closed captioning is always on, lights flash with the doorbell, and hearing aids are sometimes optional.

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