4 Hanukkah Romances for Teens and Tweens

Hand these four books to YA readers who can't resist a sweet holiday love story.

The four covers with dreidel art embellishment

Eight Dates and Nights by Betsy Aldredge. Underlined. ISBN 9780593710333.
Gr 7 Up–Teens Hannah and Noah fall for each other while exploring Jewish holiday traditions. Hannah’s holiday visit to her grandmother is unexpectedly extended as a freak snowstorm hits rural Texas. She is prevented from flying back to New York City for an urban Hanukkah celebration with her family. Noah, a Texas native, is spending his holiday happily working at the family deli, where he typically runs the counter and occasionally dresses as a kosher deli treat. Hannah’s and Noah’s lives collide with a hilariously unique meet-cute. The wholesome friendship blossoms quickly into romance as the duo bond over deli pickles amongst a sprinkle of holiday kisses. Noah is excited to share his family holiday traditions with Hannah as their blooming romance embraces cultural Hanukkah traditions for eight days and nights. In these chapters, an endearing exploration of Jewish holiday traditions occurs. Although predictable, the ending is as charming and wholesome as the entire read. Cheesy and cute, this high school romance will appeal to middle and high schoolers. VERDICT A welcome addition to a library holiday collection. YA readers who are looking for a quick, light romance will enjoy this holiday read, with its refreshing Hanukkah theme.–Kelly Moore 

How to Excavate a Heart by Jake Maia Arlow. HarperTeen. ISBN 9780063078727. 
Gr 9 Up–Shani is in Washington, D.C., for an internship on winter break from college with a self-assigned to-do list. On her list: live like a Jewish nun, absorb as much knowledge about paleoichthyology as possible, explore museums, avoid her mom’s texts, and try to forget about Sadie, her ex. Not on her list? Flirting with May, the cute girl she keeps running into (quite literally). However, kismet and snowstorms have other plans, and soon Shani’s crush is inescapable. With a cast of lovely supporting characters (her understanding but firm supervisor, her effusive nonagenarian landlord, her encouraging bestie), Shani opens up and takes tentative steps towards love again—and explores the psychological barriers blocking her from emotional and physical intimacy with May. The flirty enemies-to-lovers story is sweet and optimistic, but the most remarkable feat is the authentic portrayal of nervous teenagers working through their relationship anxieties. Both Shani and May are Jewish and are coded as white—it’s wonderful to see Jewish characters falling in love during Hanukkah and using Jewish references, but it would’ve been even sweeter to have the fairy tale extended to the point where Christmas is barely discussed. VERDICT Purchase for any teen collections where romance is popular, but especially for any readers who love to read sharp banter as much as they love to swoon.–Susannah Goldstein 

[Read: YA Meet Cutes and Romances for ‘Love at First Sight’ Fans | Read-Alikes]

 Eight Nights of Flirting by Hannah Reynolds. Razorbill. ISBN 9780593349755. 
Gr 7 Up–In this lush and cozy holiday romance, Reynolds (The Summer of Lost Letters) brings readers to Nantucket and the raucous and loving Barnabel family. Shira Barnabel is looking forward to spending Hanukkah with her extended family in her grandparent’s sprawling Nantucket home, but then a snowstorm leaves her whole family stranded on the mainland. Instead of a house full of cousins, Shira finds herself lighting the first candle with sworn enemy Tyler Nelson, the boy responsible for her first and only broken heart. Shira decides to turn the situation to her advantage and talks the charming Tyler into giving her lessons in flirting, in the hopes of attracting a new intern in her family business. Reynolds takes readers through the paces of Hanukkah, Christmas, and general winter traditions of a wealthy Nantucket social circle—all perfect set pieces for Tyler to administer lessons in seduction. A mystery involving Shira’s family and an old Nantucket whaling ship brings the two into each other’s orbit more and more often, and the line between flirting lessons and actual flirting becomes blurred. Reynolds’s narration is smart, warm, and full of plenty of well-earned swoony moments. The evolution of Shira and Tyler’s relationship, as well as a subplot about Shira’s grandparents, thoughtfully explore the ways hurt feelings can affect perceptions of and openness to love and affection over time. A companion to the author’s debut novel, this can be read as a stand-alone. VERDICT Absolutely delightful.–Beth McIntyre 

Recommended for You by Laura Silverman. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. ISBN 9781534474192. 
Gr 6 Up–Silverman’s (Girl Out of WaterYou Asked for Perfect) latest is permeated with just as much teen drama, angst, romance, and laughter as her earlier works. Shoshana is a peppy high school student from Georgia with the most incredible moms, friends, and boss a girl could have. An aspiring author, she loves her job at the Once Upon independent bookstore and enthusiastically recommending books to people. Her happiness begins to peter out over winter break when her car, “Barbara Streisand,” breaks down and the new (and cute) sales clerk, Jake Kaplan (who doesn’t even read books!), gives her the cold shoulder. To exacerbate matters, her mothers, who have been bickering lately about money and responsibilities, have forgotten their “Latkepalooza” last-night-of-Hanukkah family tradition. Shoshana believes that fixing each and every one of her problems will make everything better; however, her actions may be causing more drama than closure. Silverman creates a delightful coming-of-age story, featuring LGBTQ parents and friends. The protagonist (like many her own age) discovers that life isn’t a fairy tale and that growing up means facing real-life problems that cannot be solved so easily. VERDICT This book is destined for rom-com fans and those who have worked in retail and know the plight of customer service.Beronica Puhr

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing