Review of “Jazz in Love” by Neesha Meminger

I was so happy to read this book. There aren’t many YA authors painting stories with the color brown, and this author has done so with confidence and skill.

Jazz, short for Jasbir, is seventeen, and despondent because her strict Punjabi Sikh parents want to start the process of fixing her up with a “suitable boy” as determined by family matchmakers. Jazz, however, is an all-American girl, and wants to date, have boyfriends, and then fall madly in love, like in the bodice-ripper romances she is so fond of reading.

She gets lucky when one of her aunts proposes a young handsome boy from Canada who comes down to meet Jazz. He confides in her that he is gay, and suggests they pretend to like each other so that their respective parents will leave them alone. In time, Jazz and “Mit” become good friends, and the ruse seems to be working.

Meanwhile, Jazz, her best friend Cindy, and her childhood friend Jeevan (“Jeeves”), all members of the Future Stars and Leaders (FSL) Program at their high school, scheme to help find true love for Jazz’s Auntie Kinder.

When both Jazz and Mit become smitten (with others) for real, however, all the deceptions seem to lead to disasters. Jazz’s parents threaten to send her to India, and Jazz isn’t sure anymore what love really is:

“Was I too busy looking for the giant, all-consuming love I’d read about; the one that woke sleeping beauties out of eternal sleep and whisked lovely maidens away from their wicked stepmothers, transforming them into princesses in glittering ball gowns? A love that sent my heart racing and made my tongue go numb; that made an FSL – Future Star and Leader – student like me do stupid things despite knowing better?

…What if Love wasn’t all that? What if it was quieter, like a whisper on a breeze that you had to listen real hard for? Or smaller, like a cardamom seed that’s soothing and pungent and explosive all at once?….”

Evaluation: In some ways, this story is similar to others involving high school girls finding out about the realities of romance. But it mixes in the wonderful flavor of Indian Punjabi culture to distinguish it from that and other YA books. The teens are basically good kids: they want to make their parents proud, but they want to be true to themselves as well. This book is charming and funny and poignant, and gets high school talk absolutely perfect. I definitely recommend this enjoyable read.

Rating: 4/5

Published by Ignite Books, 2011

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15 Responses to Review of “Jazz in Love” by Neesha Meminger

  1. Sandy says:

    It sounds wonderful. Nothing groundbreaking, but relevant, and I love that it infuses the Indian culture.

  2. Amanda says:

    I really like this author and the story sounds really good, but I read another person’s review where the quoted a lot of the “teen-speak” and I’m not sure I could handle reading it right now when I haven’t really been feeling up for YA lately…

  3. This sounds pretty good. I quite enjoy when authors use the brown paint brush, so to speak.

  4. zibilee says:

    I bet my daughter would love this book, and am going to have to see if I can find it for her. It sounds like it has a lot going for it, and I thank you for your thoughtful review!

  5. Vasilly says:

    I’ve read nothing but great things about this book! I need to push it up toward the top of my tbr pile. Great review.

  6. Julie P. says:

    Looks so good. Adding it to Booking Daughter’s list!

  7. marthalama says:

    I’m not a big YA reader and my daughter is a little older than the demographic for this but I love the Indian culture and think this might be an interesting take.

  8. Bumbles says:

    Ah – love is often just a whisper to listen for – that’s why many times it was right under our nose the entire time.

  9. Jen says:

    Plot-wise, the book sounds a little like Bend it Like Beckham, a movie I adore. I think I might have to give Jazz in Love a go. Although I’m not sure if my love for Bend It will put me off of Jazz.

  10. bermudaonion says:

    This does sound good! I think it must be incredibly difficult to be the first generation to grow up in a new country.

  11. Jenners says:

    You really find a lot of quality YA books.

  12. nymeth says:

    All the reviews of this I’ve read so far have me dying to read it!

  13. Biblibio says:

    It doesn’t sound like it’s all that original, but it does seem like it fills a hole in young adult fiction. The quote is particularly interesting, in that it displays both the pretentious and overly analytic thinking of a teen but does so in a reflective, well-written manner.

  14. Ceri says:

    There are so many Brit films about this topic – the all-British girl growing up with traditionally punjabi Indian parents (or Pakistani parents) struggling to straddle the line between both.

    I’ve not read much YA or seen many films set in American handling this subject so it’s quite refreshing to hear of one. 🙂 I’d like to give this a go.

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