author: Neesha Meminger
date: Ignite Books, January 2011
main character: Jasbir (Jassy/Jazz) Dhatt
Jazz in Love is the latest YA book from author, Neesha Meminger. Her previous book, Shine Coconut Moon was an ALA Best Books for Young Adults Nominee, CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book and NYPL “Books for the Teen Age”. Yet, Meminger had to self publish if she wanted Jazz in Love to reach the light of day. What’s wrong with the book? It’s a contemporary teen romance that isn’t a story of racism, of being an immigrant or a retelling of a traditional Indian tale. It is a refreshing story of Jazz (short for ‘Jasbir’), a young teen girl who wants to be more American than her Punjabi parents. She has such an amazing sense of self, thanks to friends, family and local Punjabi community members who are supportive of her in a very realistic way. They are as likely to tell Jazz when she’s wrong as they are to go along with her on one of her crazy schemes.
What’s Jazz’s problem? She likes boys as friends as well as romantically but her parents are of a generation that believes young girls should never be seen alone with a boy. In fact, Jazz was observed alone with her dear friend, Jeeves and the tongues begin to wag. Jazz’s parents decide it’s time to arrange a marriage and what followers is a skillfully executed presentation of the pros and cons of such an arrangement. What follows is Jazz’s attempt to please her parents while living her own life. What follows is Jazz growing up.
Such a story only works with well developed characters such as those that Meminger gives us. You can’t deal with an issue like arrange marriages and have one dimensional male or female characters if you want readers to realize this is an authentic and contemporary telling.
We enter Jazz’s world and realize that this is just one story, there is more than one culture in India and it’s diaspora and that individuals within these cultures each have their own stories. These impressions are in the story without it becoming overwhelming. What we really get to know is the goodness in Jazz’s heart. She’s someone any teen could relate to while learning about the world around them.
I have to disclose that I do have a professional, online relationship with the author. I was afraid to read this book because I didn’t know quite what I would do if I didn’t like it. If you’ve ever read Neesha’s blog or Shine Coconut Moon, you’d know there’s a pretty good chance this book would be good. But there was still that ‘what if’. I can tell you that if I hadn’t liked Neesha’s book, I wouldn’t have reviewed it. It’s a wonderful story!
Just to prove how much faith I have in this book, I’ve bought two copies of Jazz in Love which I’ll be giving to two lucky readers. If you want a chance to win the book, leave a comment and tell why you’d like to read Jazz in Love. Contest closes on Saturday 29 January 2011 at which time I’ll do an old fashioned drawing to see which two numbered entries win. GOOD LUCK!
If you’d like to purchase Jazz in Love it can be found at
For the Apple iPad
Sony e-reader, Stanza, Diesel, and hand-held reading devices
Review copy was sent to me by the author.