Mr. Per­fect on Paper

By – August 8, 2022

Jean Meltzer’s sopho­more romance nov­el, Mr. Per­fect on Paper, is a wit­ty sto­ry about one woman’s search for her per­fect man. Dara Rabi­nowitz, the descen­dant of match­mak­ing matri­archs, is a suc­cess­ful CEO of a Jew­ish dat­ing app. Pro­pelled by her bubbe’s insis­tence that she find love, Dara ends up search­ing for a soul­mate on nation­al tele­vi­sion with host Chris Stead­fast — in whom she will soon take more than a lit­tle interest.

Meltzer, who with­drew from rab­bini­cal school due to chron­ic ill­ness, does a lot of things well. First and fore­most, Mr. Per­fect on Paper is unapolo­get­i­cal­ly Jew­ish. It edu­cates the read­er on Jew­ish High Hol­i­days with­out com­ing across as preachy. Dara’s Jew­ish­ness is one of the main focus­es of the book, dri­ving her search for a per­son who prac­tices Judaism in a sim­i­lar way — some­one who keeps kosher, cel­e­brates the hol­i­days, and sim­ply loves being Jew­ish. How­ev­er, with Chris not being Jew­ish, ten­sion bub­bles up. Meltzer show­cas­es the very real pres­sures that many inter­faith cou­ples face. Dara can con­tin­ue to pur­sue her Mr. Per­fect on Paper, or she can learn how to build a life with some­one not Jewish.

The nov­el tack­les heav­ier sub­jects, such as gen­er­al­ized anx­i­ety dis­or­der and grief. Dara’s anx­i­ety shapes much of who she is and influ­ences her TV search for love. Sim­i­lar­ly, Chris’s grief as a wid­ow­er-cum-father fea­tures promi­nent­ly. While he appears con­fi­dent and put-togeth­er, he is real­ly on a jour­ney to stop run­ning from his pain. What’s most remark­able is the fact that Meltzer incor­po­rates humor in a way that brings lev­i­ty with­out dimin­ish­ing the grav­i­ty of the circumstances.

Mr. Per­fect on Paper is a romance that pri­or­i­tizes char­ac­ter devel­op­ment. With impec­ca­ble pac­ing and dual points of view, the nov­el def­i­nite­ly falls into the cat­e­go­ry of page-turn­er. And while Judaism sits at the fore­front, such themes as find­ing love and self-accep­tance will appeal to Jew­ish and non-Jew­ish read­ers alike.

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.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Jean Meltzer

  1. What did you think of Dara’s list for The Per­fect Jew­ish Hus­band”? Do you think the qual­i­ties she out­lined are impor­tant in a partner?
  2. Dara has gen­er­al­ized anx­i­ety dis­or­der. How has this con­di­tion affect­ed her life? Do you know any­one who lives — or do you your­self live — with GAD? How does it affect their/​your life?
  3. If you had to cre­ate your own Mr. Per­fect on Paper,” what qual­i­ties would be on your list?
  4. Dara insists she could nev­er be with a non-Jew­ish man. But she can’t help falling for Chris. What do you think draws her to him?
  5. Have you ever expe­ri­enced the same kind of attrac­tion to a per­son out­side of your faith/​culture/​expected pool of suitors?
  6. Do you believe love con­quers all when it comes to rela­tion­ships? Or do you believe it’s more impor­tant for 1 two peo­ple to be look­ing in the same direc­tion,” as Dara says of Jew­ish coupling?
  7. Are you Team Chris or Team Dr. Daniel? Who did you want Dara to end up with? Why?
  8. One major theme in the sto­ry is learn­ing to face your fears in order to move ahead with your life. Do you agree with this assess­ment? Is there a time in your life when you had to do this?
  9. What was your favorite scene in Mr. Per­fect on Paper? Why?
  10. If there were a movie based on the book, who would you cast as the characters?