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.
Published by Ignite Books, 2011