book review: Jazz in Love (and a giveaway!!)

book review: Jazz in Love

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

Boone Bridge Books (indie bookseller)
Indiebound (US)
Powell’s (US)
Amazon US

Review copy was sent to me by the author.

15 thoughts on “book review: Jazz in Love (and a giveaway!!)

  1. I would very much like to read this book. I have often wondered if the subject of arranged marriages come up with teen girls with traditional parents in the US. I also recently read Mitali Perkin’s Secret Keeper, which also got me wondering about the pull of old world traditions on modern teens. She sounds like a fabulous writer. I look forward to checking out her blog!


  2. Great review! I loved Jazz in Love and will be reviewing it as well. And Medeia, you’d be surprised how closed-minded a lot of publishers are to books that are out of the ordinary. My small press published YA novel, Gringolandia, won quite a few major awards, and even though I found an agent quickly for its companion, so far she’s had a hard time getting editors from major houses even to read and consider the new manuscript.


  3. I really enjoyed Jazz in Love and I have my fingers crossed that we’ll see Jazz and her friends again.

    I thought I was going to be the first person to a review on amazon but Jill beat me to it.


  4. I just got done reading “Shine, Coconut Moon” and I’m very interested and excited to read this new book. So please, please, please let me win this book!


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