Sunday, December 22, 2013

Two Hanukkah Tales

Yesterday two review sites featured my reviews.  Today The Romance Reviews is featuring two of my reviews of Hanukkah stories.  Both are by Dreamspinner Press, and I'm still trying to figure out why these stories are included in Dreamspinner's Advent Calendar.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I think Advent is a purely Christian concept.  So why are Jewish holiday stories included?  Or why isn't the Advent Calendar called something like the Holiday Calendar?

Anyway, the two novellas that I review on the TRR site are both nice, "awwww"-inspiring tales.

In Bashert by Gale Stanley, a Jewish Penn State freshman is having religious doubts and meets up with a Jewish grad student who celebrates Hanukkah with him.  The word bashert translates as "destiny" or "soul mate" which I think is a little presumptuous for this particular story.  Just because two people click for eight days doesn't mean they're destined for each other.  I don't think because someone is Jewish (or Roman Catholic, or Southern Baptist, or any other religion for that matter), he will automatically become a soul mate of a person who practices that same religion.  Isn't more necessary to make someone a soul mate?  My answer's yes.

In Another Life by Cardeno C., on the other hand, is a strange riff on It's a Wonderful Life.  Instead of seeing what life would be like if he weren't born, the Jewish 18-year-old who is committing suicide sees what life would be like if he lived.  Hanukkah is mentioned in the story, but isn't a focal point like it is in Bashert, so calling this a holiday novella is stretching the point as far as it'll go.

But the author's use of humor in an otherwise grim tale makes the story likable.  As holiday stories go, however, it falls very short, making me wonder why it was included in the Advent Calendar.

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