From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up-Warmly descriptive of life in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), this love story has a rich sense of place. Sixteen-year-old Jeeta's mother is consumed with the problems of arranging marriages for her three daughters and is sure that Jeeta's dark skin and smart mouth will turn off prospective grooms. But the teen's new friend, Sarina, opens her eyes to other possibilities. Discovering the pleasures of learning, Jeeta does well in her last year at school and enters college hoping to study law. Then, a handsome boy whom she meets at the swimming pool turns out to be Sarina's cousin. Because her mother forbids her to socialize with boys, she uses visits to Sarina to provide cover for their developing relationship. Readers may feel let down by the inconclusive ending, expecting at least an engagement, but the family's movement toward more modern ways is realistic. The novel reads like a memoir written by someone who wants to hold on to every detail of a remembered life. The tensions of family life in a small apartment are evident and the conflict between old beliefs and customs and the modern world is clear. Like the matrimonial ad her friend quotes, Jeeta is a girl with strong east-west family values, with all the contradictions that that statement suggests. This first-person narrative is a lush and loving exploration of coming of age.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD
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Gr. 8-11. Most YA novels steeped in South Asian culture, including Sheth's debut, Blue Jasmine
(2004), unfold among immigrants in the U.S. or the UK. Not so the author's second book. Sixteen-year-old Jeeta lives in contemporary Mumbai, where her domineering mother is consumed with arranging marriages for Jeeta's elder sisters--and eventually for Jeeta herself. The sharp-tongued teen can't help but challenge traditions that seem sexist ("We have brains up there, not roti
dough"), but her protests remain theoretical until a cosmopolitan new friend opens her eyes to alternatives. Jeeta's relationship with a forbidden boyfriend is never wholly convincing, and her sister's domestic-abuse crisis, though dramatic, is too convenient to be entirely credible as the impetus for shaking Mother's hidebound ideals. But like the hot, sweet mango pickles Jeeta savors, her experiences crystallize the combined pain and joy of tradition and family, which Sheth anchors in rich particulars of setting, cuisine, and dialect (a glossary is provided). Many readers will go on to explore Tanuja Desai Hidier's Born Confused
(2002) and comparable titles for adults, such as Amulya Maladi's Mango Season
(2003). Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved