Jasmine "Jazz" Gardner heads off to India during the monsoon season. The family trip is her mother's doing: Mrs. Gardner wants to volunteer at the orphanage that cared for her when she was young. But going to India isn't Jazz's idea of a great summer vacation. She wants no part of her mother's do-gooder endeavors.
What's more, Jazz is heartsick. She's leaving the business she and her best friend, Steve Morales, started--as well as Steve himself. Jazz is crazy in love with the guy. If only he knew!
Only when Jazz reluctantly befriends Danita, a girl who cooks for her family, and who faces a tough dilemma, does Jazz begin to see how she can make a difference--to her own family, to Danita, to the children at the orphanage, even to Steve. As India claims Jazz, the monsoon works its madness and its magic.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
April 10, 2006
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins
Berkeley students basked in the spring sunshine. They were watching a group of Hawaiians hula to the beat of traditional drums. I pushed my way through the crowd, bumping into a display of tie-dyed T-shirts.
The vendor caught it before it fell. "Take it easy, kid!"
"What's the rush, Jazz?" the drummer asked.
I mumbled an excuse and kept going. The hat must be empty, I thought. I usually jump-started the giving for the hula dancers by dropping a dollar in the drummer's battered straw hat, but I couldn't stop now. I had big news to tell Steve. Bad news, I thought, almost crashing into the barefoot actor reciting Shakespeare.
Finally. There it was. The Berkeley Memories booth, or the Biz, as we called it. Steve was selling tickets to a bunch of tourists, and my stomach started dancing to the drumbeat at the sight of him.
"Hey," he said, handing me a roll of bills. "Busy day today. Count that, will you?"
I took the money but didn't say anything. Steve looked up and saw my face. "Jazz! What's wrong?" he asked.
"The orphanage won the grant," I said. "I'm spending the summer in India."
I heard a cough and turned to see an elderly lady tapping her watch. "Biz Rule Number Three: Customer Is King," I muttered to Steve. "Meet you at the coffeehouse. Gotta get a latte."
Not too many fifteen-year-olds are addicted to lattes, but Steve and I got hooked on them while we were planning the Biz last summer. Berkeley Memories belonged completely to the two of us--Steven Anthony Morales and Jasmine Carol Gardner.
But Steve was far more than just my business partner. We'd been best friends since kindergarten--the kind of friends who never have a fight, the kind who know exactly what the other person's thinking. Or at least we used to.
Until last summer, that is, when something terrible happened.
I fell in love.
Our friendship might have survived if I'd fallen in love with someone else. But no. I had to fall in love with him. Steve Morales himself--who'd once been the kid I wrestled every day of second grade.
It was almost impossible to keep a secret from Steve, and lately I could tell he was wondering why I was acting so weird. I'd dissolve into tears while we watched some silly movie, blubbering into the popcorn while Steve stared at me like I was some kind of lunatic. And I'd developed a new habit--one that made him furious. I'd started to put myself down. A lot.
"Are you nuts?" he'd ask, trying not to shout. "Do you know what you just said?"
I couldn't help it. All my unspoken passion made me feel like a volcano, and insults about the way I looked or acted came gushing out of my mouth. Part of me wanted him to leap to my defense, but my plan always backfired. He just got mad at me instead.
Now I watched him glumly through the window of the coffeehouse. Why did he have to grow up to be so gorgeous? So out of my reach? Big brown eyes, long lashes, a great jawline, and a cleft in his chin that I always wanted to touch. Not to mention those long legs and great shoulders, which gave him the perfect build for high jump and hurdles. He'd broken several school records already and was about as obsessed with track as he was with the business.
He'd even talked me into joining the team. We were the only two sophomores on varsity who won consistently. My records weren't for running or leaping, though. I made the school paper for throwing a shot put farther than most girls in our district--and most guys. The school paper printed a photo of Steve and me that someone had snapped from behind us, of all places. track-team twins, read the caption. I was wearing two sweatshirts and we looked exactly the same size on top. Farther on down, though, his shape got slimmer. Mine just stayed wide.
But there was more to Steve than met the eye. He was an honor student, just like I was. He was kind; I'd actually seen him leave the booth to help old ladies cross Telegraph Avenue. And he was humble, too. I don't think he had a clue that he was one of the top ten feature attractions at school.
Even as I watched, a group of East Bay High girls joined the line at the booth. One was a small-boned, tiny-waisted girl who reminded me of a Barbie doll. Julia something or other. She was the batting-eyelash type who made guys feel like hulking superheroes. I'd actually seen a few of them flexing their biceps when she passed by. A group of second-rate imitators accompanied her everywhere.
She was twisting a strand of her long hair, gazing up at Steve. I figured she was about to make a move. Sure enough, she fumbled in her bag and "accidentally" dropped a handful of coins. Steve, of course, bent down to pick them up. I winced as he handed her a tie-dyed T-shirt, placed a headband around her forehead, and draped a peace medallion around her neck. This was our usual Biz routine, but she smiled at him the whole time as if they were getting married. Then she followed him into the booth, winking at her giggling friends.