Kiss­ing Kosher

  • Review
By – August 21, 2023

Jean Meltzer’s third nov­el is a beau­ti­ful sto­ry about Jew­ish pride and life with chron­ic pain. It serves as a reminder to hold onto joy, no mat­ter what hard­ships are thrown your way.

Avi­tal Cohen runs a kosher bak­ery known for its pump­kin-spice bab­ka. She does this while liv­ing with chron­ic pelvic pain, which forces her to find some addi­tion­al help. When Ethan Lipp­mann walks in to inter­view for the job, she hires him — and fights her attrac­tion towards him. Lit­tle does Avi­tal know that Ethan is there to steal the bab­ka recipe for his grand­fa­ther, who is the arch­neme­sis of Avital’s own grand­fa­ther. Before long, Ethan los­es sight of the mis­sion because of his fond­ness for Avital.

Meltzer, who also expe­ri­ences chron­ic ill­ness, has writ­ten a sto­ry that feels deeply per­son­al and mean­ing­ful. Her pro­tag­o­nist has every rea­son to be angry with life: she doesn’t know how to ease her pain, and she’s con­stant­ly exhaust­ed. How­ev­er, she masks so much of her suf­fer­ing by car­ing for oth­ers and car­ry­ing on her family’s busi­ness. Ethan’s over­whelm­ing sup­port makes Avi­tal feel less alone as she tends to the day-to-day oper­a­tions of the bakery. 

Kiss­ing Kosher is unapolo­get­i­cal­ly Jew­ish — some­thing that read­ers can expect if they’ve read Meltzer’s oth­er nov­els. Not only does the book take place over Jew­ish hol­i­days, it includes a rab­bi that works at a mar­i­jua­na dis­pen­sary. Through Avi­tal and Ethan’s expe­ri­ence with this rab­bi, they learn how to man­age her pain. And she is able to explore her sex­u­al­i­ty in Jew­ish ways.

With stun­ning char­ac­ter devel­op­ment, Kiss­ing Kosher is a tale of feud­ing fam­i­lies that rede­fines joy and how to claim it. Meltzer has craft­ed a romance that is suit­able for a wide range of ages.

Eliz­a­beth Slot­nick works in the tech­nol­o­gy space but has a grow­ing pres­ence on book­sta­gram, where she reviews books span­ning across all gen­res. She grad­u­at­ed from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia and lives in Seat­tle, WA.

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