Sunday, June 20, 2010

Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins is an unsung author in the YA lit world. Monsoon Summer was my first experience reading her work, and after reading this book, I am convinced that her books need to be marketed more. Her goal is to make multicultural literature available, enjoyable, and accessible to young readers, and I'd say she succeeds on all accounts with this beautiful work of multicultural, modern-day fiction.

When Jasmine "Jazz" Gardener learns that she'll be spending the entire summer in India with her family, she is less than thrilled at the idea. Her mother, the exuberant do-gooder, wants to return to the orphanage where she was adopted to help set up a clinic for the poverty-stricken women and children in the area. Jazz, who still can't shake her own charitable failures, decides to stay as far away from the orphanage as possible. This plan backfires when she meets Danita, the young girl the Gardeners have hired to cook for the family during their stay. Danita has a dilemma that only Jazz can help her resolve, and she slowly begins to let herself be open to the beautiful people who are a part of the Asha Bari orphanage.

Despite the fact that the plot is predictable, there is so much more to love about the book than knowing what will happen next. The writing is full of so much sensory language that you can feel the rain falling on you, can taste the tantalizing flavors of the Indian cuisine, and you can feel the warmth of the people. It's a book that makes you realize, if you hadn't before, that despite the abject poverty, so much of India's beauty is its people.

The last few chapters of the book had me smiling, laughing, and crying all at the same time. This is the perfect summer read.

Visit Mitali Perkins' author website

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