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Monsoon Summer Hardcover – August 10, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9–Jazz, 15, and her best friend (and secret love), Steve, own a successful small business in Berkeley, taking photos of tourists in hippie costumes. When her mother wins a grant to spend the summer in India to establish a clinic at the orphanage from which she was adopted as a child, Jazz is reluctant to go but understands that the family must stick together. The girls she meets in Pune help her see herself with new eyes: more than a solidly built shot-putter, she is a beautiful young woman who might be worthy of Steve's affection. Once burned for following a do-gooder impulse, Jazz is initially afraid to befriend Danita, a talented 15-year-old orphan who dreams about starting her own business but feels compelled to accept a marriage proposal from an older man who will care for her sisters. Influenced by the magic of the monsoon season, the girls push one another to take chances rather than play it safe. Jazz reaches out to Steve and finds a way to make a difference in Danita's life. This realistic and romantic novel unobtrusively incorporates details of Indian life and culture. Jazz is a believable character, curious about her new surroundings but most engaged by her own family and friendship issues. She is appropriately upset by the poverty that surrounds her and increasingly aware of the Indians' different perceptions, including subtle indications of race and caste. Readers with an interest in faraway places will enjoy this story of friendship and first love.–Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-12. Fifteen-year-old Jasmine ("Jazz") is conflicted about spending the summer in Pune, India, where her mother has received a grant to work at the orphanage where she had lived as a child. Jazz would rather spend the summer at home in California, with Steve, the best friend she secretly loves. Jazz has always identified more with her tall, shy, "bulky" father than with her slight, "do-gooder" mother, but as she forms new friendships in Pune and delves deeper into her Indian heritage, she discovers her own strong beauty as well as the confidence to help others. Although Jazz's loving, altruistic, multiethnic family is a bit idealized, this debut novel, written in Jazz's smart, funny, self-deprecating voice, vividly evokes the smells, sights, and sounds of India in the monsoon season. Perkins folds interesting questions about caste discrimination, charity, and the challenges of growing up with a heroic parent into her warm, romantic story, which shows how the deepest private discoveries often come from very public risks. For other books about Indian and Indian American culture, see the Read-alikes "Out of India" [BKL S 15 03]. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (August 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038573123X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385731232
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,864,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I write novels for young readers, speak at conferences, schools, and libraries, and chat about writing, books, and life between cultures. Visit me on Mitali's Fire Escape ( or track me at

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Robinson on September 2, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I absolutely loved this book. Monsoon Summer is the story of 15-year-old Jasmine Carol Gardner, known as Jazz. Jazz is the product of her bulky, introverted white father and her petite, activist Indian-born mother. Genetically, and by her choices, Jazz takes mostly after her father, while her younger brother, Eric, resembles their mother. Their family is very close, however, with a strong sense of mutual loyalty. Thus when Jazz's mother wins a grant to go set up a clinic for pregnant women at the orphanage in India where she lived as a child, the whole family leaves California to go along for the summer.

Jazz is quite reluctant to go to India, however, mostly because of her newly-discovered, and undisclosed, love for her best friend, Steve. Jazz and Steve run a thriving business giving Berkeley tourists postcards of themselves in front of local landmarks and nostalgic activist signs. Jazz is worried about leaving Steve to run the business by himself, and even more worried about leaving him to the mercies of other girls from school. She can't imagine actually telling Steve how she feels, because she considers him so much more attractive and popular than herself, and she is sure that he would never be interested in her in that way. Still, she hates to leave him.

Most of the story takes place in the city of Pune, India, during the monsoon season, which many believe is a magical time. Jazz is at first quite resistant to the pull of India, and to the needs of the people around her. This is mostly due to her own self-doubt (and a little bit because of her obsession with Steve). The memory of a failed experiment in helping someone else, one in which her trust was betrayed, keeps her from wanting to get involved.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Some say that India's monsoon season creates "monsoon madness". Its magic drives some people crazy-insane but others crazy-I'll-do-things-I-never-would-have-otherwise-done. For 15-year-old Jasmine "Jazz" Carol Gardner, it's the latter.
This California girl's world is turned upside down when her family decides to go to India for the summer - to help out at the orphanage Mrs. Gardner started her life in. Though this trip may not have been Jazz's idea of a summer vacation, it's what she got. Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins shows just how India's monsoon worked its magic on her.
When Jazz leaves Berkeley, California, her home, she also leaves her best friend and long-time crush, Steve Morales. With only long-distance phone calls and the occasional letter keeping them in touch, she worries something (not in the direction she wants) will happen to their relationship.
Reluctant to join her mother's good-doing, especially in an unfamiliar place like Pune, India, Jazz's summer starts out looking pretty bleak. As a 5'11" girl who's trapped inside because of the constant rain, she spends a lot of her time worrying about the problems in her life. Problems including her looks (hugeness) and lovesickness. That is, until she finally befriends Danita, a girl from the orphanage who cooks for the Gardner family and has some troubles of her own. Their friendship teaches Jazz that she really can help other people - and maybe herself too.
As this story unfolds you can't miss all the change India's monsoon brings upon a teenage girl and her family and friends. This realistic fiction novel is perfect for the teenage girl who wants to know just how to survive in this troublesome world.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bmat on November 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Jazz resisted going to India for the summer with her family. Her mother, who was adopted by American parents had been born in India and had lived the first four years of her life in an orphanage. Now the mother was excited about returning to help the orphanage and the community around it with a medical clinic. However, Jazz had discovered her first love, her long time friend, Steve, and she yearned to stay at home and take care of the business that she and Steve had established.

The family packed up and moved to India during the Monsoon season. At first Jazz felt bitter and awkward, but she gradually started to feel comfortable. As the Monsoon brought new life to the land, Jazz discovered inner resources and contentment.

It was a pleasure to read a book with a family who cared about each other and who placed importance on family loyalty. The characters are well-written and appealing. Jazz may feel anxiety about the summer in India, she may consider herself a big unlovable girl, she may want to hide from the crowds who seem to have their eyes on her all the time, but she always comes across as someone who in the end will shine, and so she does. She scoffs at her mother's desire to give and help, but Jazz discovers that helping is part of her own personality, also.

Along with Jazz's adventures there is information about the people of India, how they dress, eat, live, and think. Danita, an orphaned girl that Jazz befriends, is determined to keep her two sisters with her, even if it means marrying a much older and physically repellant man. Danita and Jazz share their talents and make a difference in their lives.

Monsoon summer is touching and engrossing. I highly recommend it for those who want an easy to read and uplifting story about adjusting to another culture and discovering one's own self. The book is rated age 12 and up.
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