From the author of Rickshaw Girl and You Bring the Distant Near, a National Book Award Longlist title, comes a story about the magic of India’s monsoon season—“monsoon madness”—and all the change it brings to a teenage girl and her family.
Jasmine “Jazz” Gardner heads off to India during the monsoon season. The family trip is her mother’s doing: Mrs. Gardner wants to volunteer at the orphanage that cared for her when she was young. But going to India isn’t Jazz’s idea of a great summer vacation. She wants no part of her mother’s do-gooder endeavors.
What’s more, Jazz is heartsick. She’s leaving the business she and her best friend, Steve Morales, started—as well as Steve himself. Jazz is crazy in love with the guy.
Only when Jazz befriends Danita, a girl from the orphanage who cooks for her family and faces a tough dilemma, does Jazz begin to see how she can make a difference—to her own family, to Danita, to the children at the orphanage, and even to Steve.
As India claims Jazz, the monsoon works its madness and magic.
Fifteen-year-old Jasmine (aka "Jazz") Gardner, resident of Berkeley, Calif., is less thrilled than the other members of her family to be spending the summer in India, where her mother was born. While her mother, father and younger brother happily do charity work at a local orphanage (where Jazz's mother spent her first four years), Jazz broods about what she's left behind: summer practices with her track team, her lucrative business selling postcards on Telegraph Avenue, and her track teammate/business partner Steve, her childhood friend with whom Jazz has recently fallen in love. Throughout this heartfelt story, India's rainy season and myths of "monsoon madness" ("Some people go crazy with joy when the rains come. Others go mad because they can't handle the constant downpour," explains the director of the orphanage) become metaphors for Jazz's internal changes as she gradually and somewhat reluctantly assimilates to Indian culture. Danita, a 15-year-old orphan hired as the Gardners' cook, teaches Jazz to look at herself from a new perspective, convincing the tall, self-conscious teen that she is beautiful and worthy of seemingly out-of-reach Steve. In return, Jazz assists Danita in evading an undesirable arranged marriage, helping her start her own business. Besides having educational merit in conveying India's culture and its problems, Perkins's (The Sunita Experiment) novel sensitively traces an American girl's emotional growth. Readers will not be surprised when, in the end, Jazz wins greater self-respect along with Steve's heart. Ages 12-up. .