Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins is the book that dragged me out of my all-consuming book-slump. I mentioned before that I'd not heard of Mitali Perkins until recently when without any real reason, I started following her on Twitter. She shares quite a few great links about books and reading for teens and children, and I love that. I managed to acquire a copy of her book based on those tweets. Is that sad? I don't regret it though. Monsoon Summer was a sweet, fun read.
Jazz Gardner is 15 and totally in love with her best friend and business partner, Steve. They are, however, just friends. And they look set to remain that way since Jazz and her family will be spending the summer in India during the monsoon season as her mother sets up a prenatal clinic at the orphanage where she lived before being adopted by an American family. While in India, Jazz becomes aware of the different cultural aspects between America and India. The poverty, the prejudices of the caste system, the possibility of marriage at very young ages. She's pretty firm on her resolve to stay out of it, especially her mother's 'do-good' activities at the orphanage. But the monsoon season is said to be a bit magical, and might soon work its wonders on Jazz...
I loved that Jazz is of mixed race. I don't find many great characters like her who are. And it's something I'd like to read more of, being mixed race myself. I'd like my kids to be able to read books of characters with a mixed race backround so that can have someone to relate to. Even without that though, I'd find Jazz to be quite a relateable character. She's funny and talented and doesn't yet see how being different isn't all bad. Her lack of self-esteem, both in her appearance and her abilities is quite believable. She tried once before to do something good for someone else and it didn't work out and the whole experience has left her with this extreme self-doubt. It really takes the entire summer, watching her family transform in different ways for her to realise that things are changing, and so is she.
I loved the friendship between Jazz and Danita. The relationship between Jazz and Steve is qutie cute as well. The little brother wasn't annoying. The overall themes of philanthropy, while obvious and apparent in the novel, weren't overbearing. I had quite a few tears at the end of this book, I enjoyed it that much. I'll be looking out for books by Mitali Perkins, and so should you.
Read for: 100+ book challenge, YA Reading challenge