Jazz in Love by Neesha Meminger

Jasbir, a.k.a. Jazz, has always been a stellar student and an obedient, albeit wise-cracking, daughter. Everything has gone along just fine — she has good friends in the “genius” program she’s been in since kindergarten, her teachers and her principal adore her, and her parents dote on her. But now, in her junior year of high school, her mother hears that Jazz was seen hugging a boy on the street, and goes ballistic. Mom immediately implements the Guided Dating Plan, which includes setting up blind dates with “suitable,” pre-screened Indian candidates. The boy her mother sets her up with, however, is not at all what anyone expects; and the new boy at school, the very UNsuitable hottie, is the one who gets Jazz’s blood boiling. When Jazz makes a few out=of-the-ordinary decisions, everything explodes, and she realizes she’ll need a lot more than her genius education to get her out of the huge mess she’s in. Can Jazz find a way to follow her own heart, and still stay in the good graces of her parents?

  1. I’ll start off by saying that I didn’t love this book. That said, I don’t in general care for YA romance (with obligatory riotous hormones), unless there is some huge mainstage adventure with life-and-stakes, so take my opinion with a pinch of salt.
  2. Jazz is slightly shallow, pumped with HORMONES, and full of well-intentioned but terribly through-through plans. Actually, I take that back. Her plans aren’t thought through at all. Jazz’s schemes are as precarious as the Bollywood films she pretends to dislike – or the romance novel stories she devours.
  3. Reading what comes next as she makes bad decision after bad decision is like watching a landslide. It keeps barreling downhill, and you can scream all you want, this thing is not going to stop until it hits the very bottom. And then some.
  4. Which is to say, you will probably cringe because OF COURSE everything is going to go wrong for Jazz, but it is also entertaining watching her scheme madly to fix everything. Maybe landslide is the wrong simile: maybe successive chemical reactions is an apter comparison, with an enthusiastic scientist adding a pinch of this and a pinch of that to settle the solution, and every time, creating a new explosion.
  5. Which is maybe what you get when you mix meddling in other people’s love lives with an unhealthy does of self-interest.
  6. Jazz really is trying to make things better. Really.
  7. Fortunately or unfortunately, her Auntie Kinder is Jazz’s new target: the goal being to set auntie up with her first love, meaning auntie and her daughter will be safe from her abusive ex-husband, and meaning that Jazz will have proved to her parents that unsuitable love matches are the way to go.
  8. Although this is a story about teenage romance, the mid-life romance is a large and significant subplot; though this is a story about getting the boy, most of the characters are girls and women who support each other: Jazz and her best friend, Cindy Reda-Rodriguez; Cindy and her sisters and their mom; Jazz’s mom and Auntie Kinder; Jazz and Aunt Kinder and Aunt Kinder’s daughter.
  9. Enter a surprising number of unsatisfactory male characters, who range from abusers to cheats to boys trying to manage as best they can… as well as a few gems in the form of love interests and good friends.
  10. In happier news, there is a background interracial gay couple (both MOC) with a happy ending.
  11. If you’re looking for a teen romance novel with a starring cast of (primarily) Indian characters, you might give this a shot.