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Sweet Like Sugar

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  207 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
With eloquence and wit, Wayne Hoffman explores the unlikely camaraderie between a young Jewish man and an Orthodox rabbi, in this rich, insightful novel about love, honesty, faith, and belonging.

In Yiddish, there is a word for it: bashert-the person you are fated to meet. Twentysomething Benji Steiner views the concept with skepticism. But the elderly rabbi who stumbles i
ebook, 304 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by Kensington Publishing Group (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Elisa Rolle
Nov 12, 2011 Elisa Rolle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
2012 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention (5* from at least 1 judge)
Michelle Only Wants to Read
Just like its name, this book is sweet. I enjoyed the storyline and the characters.

I certainly learned more about Judaism than I expected. It became a bit too heavy on the subject at the end. I understand Benji was coming to term with his Jewishness, but the last couple of chapters felt too much like a Hebew class (thank you, Google!) for my taste. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and there are many lessons to be learned about friendship, acceptance, and coming to terms with
Apr 01, 2015 cameron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book almost did a lot of things but failed on any. The central characters of an elderly, mean Rabbi and a younger gay man are never clearly realized as are none of the characters in this book. Stereotypes, mushy thinking, incoherent explanation and vague theological gobbled gook.

Hopefully this may be the first novel of a writer who has potential... but not yet.

This was recommended by some mention I read on Goodreads as a very good choice. I'm continually surprised at the range of reader rea
May 17, 2016 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young, gay, Jewish man befriends an older, Orthodox rabbi, and both eventually challenge and learn from the other. A book about our various identities, how they may come into conflict with each other, and how we deal with that whether we eventually resolve them or not. Hoffman is from my home town and he describes the area just right, including the hills and the various neighborhoods and Jewish communities. Recommended.
Feb 07, 2015 Mimi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! Very cute! At first it wasn't so kosher and then I really enjoyed it! The author got all the stereotypes right!!
Halle Farber
It drew me in, but I cringed at some of the predictable stereotypes. Still, I thought it was a sweet and compelling story. Just wish the characters had more depth.
Suad Ali
Jan 21, 2014 Suad Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sweet Like Sugar.

The Orthodox Rabbi Jacob Zuckerman, a 80 something old man overwhelmed with grief and loneliness at death of his bashert, his fated person Sophia, stumbles into the 26 years old Benji's office. Thus starts to learn how to live again, that life still has much more to give.
And there is, an untypical Jew young man. Benji Steiner a gay graphic designer, who feels he lost his connection with Judaism. Learns that being Jew is much more than eating a kosher or attending religious cerem
Jason Gordon
The book handled the classical conception of friendship, defined as an opportunity to practice virtue, pretty well -- even though it was trite at times.

The rest of the book made me chuckle, but most of it was banal beyond belief.

How many more stories of white, middle class, suburbanite people embarking on some quasi-existential journey to find themselves will suck up literary rewards from writers with something important to say?

The protagonist Benji was no more banal than the mainstream gays/
Hollis Shiloh
Jan 28, 2015 Hollis Shiloh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such a great book. The focus isn't on romance (although there is some) but rather on personal growth and spiritual subjects. Finding out who he is, perhaps. The hero is out, has a pretty good life and a reasonably healthy relationship with his family. He has friends, dates, and is working hard to make his business support him. But he also continues to search for answers about his heritage and faith and where he fits in the world as a gay Jewish man. What "kind of Jew" is he? There seem ...more
Susan Kaplan
Man meets rabbi and meets a man

This is a quick read with interesting and likeable characters, that addresses many of the issues facing Judaism today. The protagonist, Benji, a young, gay, and barely Jewish man, stumbles into a casual relationship with Rabbi Zuckerman, the owner of the Jewish bookstore in the shopping plaza where Benji has his own advertising business. What began as casual quickly becomes a deep and valuable friendship, until Benji tells Rabbi Zuckerman, who is Orthodox, that he'
Jon O
Feb 11, 2012 Jon O rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coming-out, religion
This book is fantastic.

I was not sure how this book would be able to hold my interest. I was not even sure if it could. Too often books have been written as excellent but I could not even get through the first few chapters. Unlike this book. I finished reading this book within two days.

Such a good writing to focus on the friendship between a young gay guy with an old rabbi, who turned out to be as much homophobic as often expected. Somehow, their fondness of each other made them reassess their l
Jan 31, 2012 Corn14853 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I need to explain the rating. I would have given it 2.5, but a half is not an option on goodreads.

The writing is very good, as are the details. And as a fan, I can't say "No" to a couple of references to the Barry Sisters. (And when the author mentions a specific poster of them, I immediately knew which one he was talking about.) So, overall, I did like the book.

Now the problems. The text followed what to me seems like a lazy man's Jewish story line. There's a difference of opinion that is stro
Judy Neger
I didn't love this book. It was okay. some lines were funny but a bit cliche. Also, some of the comments Wayne Hoffman makes about orthodox jews is interesting to read from an outsider's perspective but still lacked details to portray its realness. I felt like many parts of the book were a little unrealistic and idealistic. Some parts of the book made it feel like the author was himself awkward about being gay even though he had come out for many years. There was never any mention of any explici ...more
Oct 16, 2014 Benjamin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-fiction
When an elderly Rabbi comes into his office to lie down on his couch to recover from the heat, little does Benji realise how much his life is about to change. Benji is in his late twenties, a lapsed Jew but still staunchly proud of his heritage, what does he have to do with this octogenarian Orthodox Rabbi? Initially nothing passes between Benji and the Rabbi, but as the Rabbi's visits become a regular part of Benji's day, and even after the heat passes and the Rabbi no longer needs the use of h ...more
Gregory Allen
Sep 09, 2011 Gregory Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always been drawn to engaging stories of friendship, especially those of a budding nature that must somehow break through a barrier in order to flourish. Wayne Hoffman has created that kind of story that not only deals with an age barrier, but one where religion plays such a pivotal role in how people view the world as young Benjamin befriends Rabbi Zuckerman. Like Benjamin, I recall when I was in my 20s and a minister and I became friends and his world was shattered when he discovered I ...more
Marianne Stehr
Sep 09, 2011 Marianne Stehr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book facinating. The characters are so in depth, the story is passionate, moving, funny and deep. I absolutely loved it. I was so interested in what what happening to each character and everytime a new character was introduced it was done so with the same care and energy that you had no choice but to care about what was happening to them. Now I am not Jewish and there were terms I was unfamiliar with, but it did not take away from the story, in fact it makes me a little more interes ...more
Apr 01, 2012 Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book - gay twenties non-observant Jewish gut meets octogenarian widowed morose rabbi - hijinks ensue. Despite the rift the author could have gone on with this book, the result is one of the best books I have read so far this year ... sweet, insightful, thought-provoking, an appropriate amount of schmaltz. I read this book in its entirety on a flight back from London. Three quarters of the way through the book, my seatmate turned to me and asked if I was ok. I said I was f ...more
Feb 15, 2014 Jules rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice little slice of life gay lit read, about an unlikely friendship formed between a lapsed Jewish gay man and an 80 year old orthodox rabbi and how they end up challenging each others' world views and learning from each other. I wish the title were uh, something else though, it really doesn't say anything about the book, though it comes up in a pretty important revelatory passage. I wish there were an easier way to find books like these on goodreads/amazon since the majority of gay fic that ...more
Oct 02, 2011 Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sweet Like Sugar is a very sweet story, a love story, between a young gay man and an octogenarian Rabbi. It's not your conventional m/m love story, there aren't any steamy love scenes between the two because the love is platonic, but it's still a wonderful love story. I certainly understand why the book has won so many awards. It's very well written and the characters just shine. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I was a little verklempt to see it end.

I give Sweet Like Sugar five stars.

Heather L
So, when I picked up this book and the opening sentence is: "I was looking at internet porn when the rabbi opened my door..." how could I NOT snatch it up, I tell you? Another great find at my local discount bookstore. This was charming and light, funny and heartwarming. 2 main topics are discussed in this book, and it was great to learn a bit more about each. This was a fix that scratched my itch...was looking for something quick and cute. But it also provided something to the story that was no ...more
It's pretty much the typical "Oh, why can't I find a boyfriend, let me tell you about the string of runner-ups I'm dating in the meantime?" but with the added twist of an Orthodox Rabbi suddenly involved in the protagonist's life.

Fairly well written, and kept my attention, so that's something.

Rom-com ending, but with some added angst because of the elderly rabbi. (You...can probably guess what happens there.)
Aug 15, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was good. A story of how two different lives connect through their shared Jewish heritage yet things aren't always as they seemed. I especially enjoyed the way the author brought together the main character's last (and lasting) relationship with a seemingly chance meeting between the two and how that even outlives the other obvious relationship centered on in the book. Highly recommend.
Eddie Weingart
Oct 01, 2012 Eddie Weingart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer-fiction
A great page-turner! The author makes a great effort in making you believe you're reading his biography, yet this is a fiction. A beautiful story about a young, gay, Jew livening in the Washington, DC metro who unintentionally befriends an orthodox rabbi, many years his senior. Against all odds, they develop an awkward yet growing platonic friendship and learn a lot from one another.
Feb 16, 2012 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish-fiction
..I really loved this was short and easy to read and i found the the "Jewishness" realistic and not stereotyped..the story of a young jewish gay man and an old orthodox rabbi was very maybe wasn't really a four-star..but i enjoyed it so much I have given it four touched my heart in many places...
Jan 14, 2015 Hermien rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, jewish
Enjoyable but the ending was a bit “schmalzy”. Even though I am not Jewish I have always been fascinated by the history and traditions of Judaism so to that extent I could identify with Benji. Overall the book remained a bit too superficial for my liking but I’m glad I read it, which I wouldn’t have done without the Jewish Book Club, so it’s already paying off being a member for me.
Feb 07, 2015 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I cringe whenever there are books about Judaism especially about the differences between conservative and Orthodox Jews. In that way, I did find this book pretty honest and not too cringe worthy. I did like Benji and most of the characters. I couldn't stand the profile of the "typical jewish mother". But the journey of discovery of Benji's connection to Judaism was very nicely portrayed.
Madalene Kesner
Apr 20, 2016 Madalene Kesner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Story of 2 incongruous people meeting accidentally & kept meeting until the younger man discovered he was fascinated by the older Rabbi & wanted to help him. Eventually, the younger man rediscovers his Jewishness & meets his life partner.
Jan 12, 2015 Lorri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the book, and gave it three stars for the author's attempt at trying to combine socially relevant topics within the pages.

If not for the book club, I would not have chosen it as a book to read.
Feb 28, 2015 Therese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's an easy read, a little predictable but brought up some interesting points about religion (Judaism) and being gay (viewed as an abomination in the Torah) and being a truly good person (the gay main character who was charitable and kind to an elderly man).
Larry Schwartz
Dec 03, 2011 Larry Schwartz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book because it received favorable reviews, but I wonder who else among the population served by the Livingston Lord Library will read a book about a gay Jewish man's relationship with an Orthodox rabbi.
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“Guys who would ordinarily ignore you in a bar suddenly find you attractive when they see that someone else is talking to you. Maybe it's the idea that you're already with someone, unattainable, that makes the pursuit suddenly seem like a thrilling challenge - or, for the masochists, a hopeless misadventure. Or maybe it's men's competitive nature, trying to beat out all the other suitors once they realize there are others vying for the same person.” 0 likes
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