Mitali Perkins was born in Kolkata, India and lived in various countries before emigrating to the United States. If you'd like to find out more about her, please do check out her website, Mitali's Fire Escape. Her website has poetry and short fiction contests, webpages about her fiction and about her personal life.
I have read two of Mitali's books, Rickshaw Girl and just recently, Monsoon Summer which I enjoyed immensely. The latter is about an American born East Indian girl named Jasmine "Jazz" Gardner who spends the summer in India. Summer is the monsoon season in India, and that means it's a time of madness and magic.
Jazz's father is American while her mother was an Indian orphan who was adopted by an American couple. Her mother arranges this trip to her native India to help the orphanage she was adopted from and the entire family tags along to help out as well.
But for Jazz, the trip means leaving behind the boy she's fallen in love with - Steve Morales who is also her business partner and best friend from kindergarten. The trouble is, while Jazz has come to acknowledge her feelings for Steve, she is certain Steve does not share feel the same way about her.
This novel deals primarily with Jazz opening her heart up to helping out others as well as opening up to Steve about her love for him. It is Danita, a lovable, warm and realistic character who really helps Jazz the most and who adds so much charm to this novel. Danita helps Jazz reconcile her Indian heritage and learn to feel comfortable with who she is, and who helps her to feel comfortable with her feelings for Steve. She also helps Jazz to step outside her own narrow world. In return, Danita gets a chance to make a better life for herself.
A subplot about her mother learning more about her background and time at the orphanage is never really developed. The book focuses more on Jazz and her long distance relationship with Steve over the summer and her relationship with Danita.
This is a romantic, coming of age novel that will appeal to younger teens, with a side focus on helping others along life's journey and on a first world teen reaching out to third world peers.