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Damini Butalia

By Mitali Perkins ; Manjira Majumdar with Ishanee Sarkar
Simon & Schuster, London ; Frog Books, 2006; 2005, pp. 257; pp. 75, £ 5.99; Rs. 125.00

By Jill Marshal and Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Macmillan Publishers, Delhi, 2006, pp. 244, pp. 195, £ 5.99 ; £ 7.99

By Camilla Morton
Hodder and Stoughton, 2006, pp. 468, £ 3.50 (pricetag) 7.99 (printed)

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 11 November 2006

Four pink books and one green one. When they were handed to me, I thought ‘ah, chic-lit’, and I was thankful that at least one looked slightly different – Monsoon Summer. Of course I ended up reading it first, and analysing it the most, but on the whole they were all quite enjoyable.   Monsoon Summer is a rather sweet story of a kid of mixed parentage getting in touch with her roots – in this case, India. With a love story thrown in, not to mention a view of India from a naïve and honest westerner’s perspective, it’s an interesting book which keeps one involved. It lets you identify with the characters and empathize with them and it also makes you think. But it has another theme running through it, that of change, that change is possible and is good. When our protagonist Jazz and her family decide to spend a summer in India, each of them is changed by the experience. It’s not because of what India is, but because a new place and coming across new ideas and outlooks encourages them to take a few chances. Clichéd though it sounds, ‘they get in touch with their real selves’ probably gets the message across quite clearly. They discover new things about themselves as they discover a country they find wonderful for its colour, energy and character and terrible in it’s poverty.   Sarah, Jazz’s mother, is Indian by birth and was adopted by an American couple when she was young. When she wants to go to India, to work at the orphanage where she was brought up till the time she was adopted, her husband and children leave behind their holiday plans and come along to support her on this journey. Their family motto is Families Stick Together, no matter what. I found it rather touching. It may have been a little too perfect to be real at times, but it was nice to envision this family with Jazz patiently listening to Eric, her younger brother, the kids so sensitive to their parents, and everyone looking after each other.   One thing which made me think was Jazz’s description of how everyone in India stared at her. For a minute I was surprised when she didn’t understand why they were staring. She thought perhaps they weren’t used to seeing families with one parent ...

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