Coming up next for the 2023 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge: a book about a holiday that’s not Christmas. Super simple for me; I peeked at my TBR and there sat Eight Nights of Flirting by Hannah Reynolds (Razorbill, 2022), the follow-up novel to her The Summer of Lost Letters, which I loved. As you can probably tell from the title, Eight Nights is set during Hanukkah, so it was a perfect match!
Shira Barbanel is spending winter break and Hanukkah at her grandparents’ house on Nantucket, along with the rest of her large extended family. Her main plan is to get a boyfriend – namely, smart, studious, solid Isaac, who’s working as her grandfather’s assistant. She’s never had a boyfriend before, but Shira’s determined. Her plan is foiled from the get-go, however, when a winter storm keeps her family away the first night and forces Shira and her former crush, Tyler, together overnight. The two strike up a deal: super smooth Tyler will teach awkward Shira to flirt, and Shira will introduce Tyler to her great-uncle, in the hopes of him gaining an internship.
Tyler’s not exactly the surface-only playboy Shira thought him to be, however. His smooth exterior hides a multitude of insecurities, and as he and Shira grow closer, she realizes there’s more to him than she ever thought. At the same time, a decades-old mystery at her grandparents’ home comes to light, and Shira and Tyler will work together to discover the truth behind the mysterious contents of the box from the attic. And along the way, they just might discover how perfect they are for each other.
Hannah Reynolds is a master of creating a wonderful setting. Just as in The Summer of Lost Letters, Eight Nights is set on the island of Nantucket, and though I’ve never been, Ms. Reynolds was able to transport me there amidst the raging snowstorm, the winter winds whipping along the coastline, the charming shops and stores still open during the off-season. I’m not much of a traveler, but she *really* made me want to go there immediately.
Shira and Tyler are great characters. Shira is flighty and awkward, unable to open up to friends or commit to activities she’s not 100% perfect at. Tyler puts up a front of being nonplussed and a major flirt, but he keeps a lot hidden, something Shira realizes fairly quickly. Despite their rocky history, the two make a good team with a huge amount of chemistry, another thing that Hannah Reynolds is a master at writing.
And the Hanukkah celebrations! Despite it being a minor holiday, Shira’s family goes all out with decorations and food and parties and family togetherness, and it’s all so much fun. Reading about the massive family get-together and the joyful chaos that ensued made me want to be a Barbanel as well so I could join in.
Hannah Reynolds has become a YA favorite of mine, and I’m looking forward to reading more from her in the future.
Visit Hannah Reynolds’s website here.