REVIEW: Home for Hanukkah by Rebecca Crowley
He’s looking for one last miracle…
Zach Strauss may be down, but he’s not out. His Bay Area biotech start-up has crashed, leaving him broke, but it’s only temporary until he can raise more money—or so he tells himself. Failure isn’t an option, and Zach’s always been able to sell anyone on anything. But back in his hometown, he finds himself in the unfamiliar position of needing a job.
After a childhood of instability, Noa Jacob purchased Second Chance, a thrift store-turned-boutique in Orchard Hill, and is determined to put down the roots she never had. Running her own business is more challenging than she’d imagined, and she’s in danger of losing it all—until a handsome stranger bursting with ideas walks in looking for work.
Noa only has ten days to turn Second Chance around, but Zach is confident that’s plenty. Together they create a successful Hanukkah Miracle Market that draws in families looking for something other than the Christmas cheer. But as the balance sheet ticks up, Noa wonders if instead of losing her business, she risks losing her heart.
Dear Ms. Crowley,
Having first “met” store owner Noa Jacob in the first Orchard Hill series book, I was excited to see that she’d get her own romance. Meanwhile Zach is the brother of Sam from book three. But new readers shouldn’t worry as returning characters are there to play supporting roles for this couple.
The plot is focused on Zach Strauss – home from San Francisco after disappointing results for the Alzheimer’s drug he’s trying to develop tank the value of his start up company – and Noa Jacob – owner of a boutique second hand store that’s heavily in debt with a balloon payment due soon. Having been turned down everywhere else he tried for a temporary job (even fast food joints), he arrives at Second Chance as his last chance and wheedles a job from Noa by getting a buyer for her most expensive store item.
Zach then gooses Noa into having a Miracle Market for her store in a desperate effort to earn enough money to keep the lights on. He has wheeled and dealed and done high finance deals and can’t see why the store isn’t making money. Well there are reasons. Lots of them. And most have to do with Noa’s upbringing with a mother who won’t stay in one place or stick to anything – something we hear about at least once each chapter. This has made her clutch things to her chest and resist asking for any help. Her store might be her dream and her baby but frankly her business sense sucks – something we see a lot of evidence of. Honestly I’m amazed she’s stayed in business this long.
I’m also not that impressed with how Zach’s business and his efforts to bring a drug to market are laid out. Let’s just say I know a little bit about this stuff and had to finally just start ignoring almost everything mentioned here. For a drug that has bombed like this – and though it’s not actually mentioned this is usually due to results from clinical trials – merely tweeking drug doses usually doesn’t salvage it. And is Zach an entrepreneur or a biochemist? I never really was sure.
Anyway, I did enjoy watching Noa and Zach work with what they had in Noa’s store to fix her business issues. It seemed logical, practical, and doable. Zach’s determination to save the drug he’d been working so hard on, though laudable – he is driven because his beloved grandmother, the only person who really “saw” him as a child, had Alzheimer’s – was more problematic. There were ways presented that he could have accepted and while they weren’t exactly what he wanted, he could have continued working on the drug. Several times I frowned and sighed with frustration, muttering “What’s more important to you, Zach? Fixing the drug or moving back to SF?”
Both MCs have family issues. Zach’s are mainly due to his parent’s disastrous marriage (something discussed in book three “Coming Home to You” though the gist is it was a marriage made in guilt and Zach’s mother played the martyr in it). He always felt he had to be The Best at everything in order to try and win some of their attention. Noa has always felt she’s taken second place to her mother’s (it seemed to me) narcissistic behavior. They were both messed up by their families though in different ways. There is a lot of discussion throughout the book about all this and I felt that Noa and Zach’s behaviors made sense in light of these things. What I wasn’t quite ready to buy is that they would fall in love within two weeks and then, after the break up due to Noa’s issues, would be ready to commit to each other again so quickly. But as the book was tied into the time frame of Hanukkah, I see why it had to happen.
Though this book is set during Hanukkah, the celebration is mainly peripheral to the story. There is a subplot of how Noa had not grown up religious which is, again, due to her mother and their peripatetic life. For a little while, I thought we’d get more religion in the plot as Zach begins to help Noa learn more about it but then this petered out. The fact that Hanukkah is considered a minor holiday in the Jewish faith is mentioned though.
I love that Noa saved her store by herself, that Zach found a way to sort of have his Alzheimer’s cake and eat it too, and that they’re happy at the end. But there was a lot of repetition of the family issues and the turn around in the relationship was a bit fast for me. B-/C+