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Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet

by Kashmira Sheth

Published by Hyperion, 2006
25 pages
ISBN: 0786838574

Age 12 and older

A story set in contemporary Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, is about sixteen-year-old Jeeta, whose outspoken, independent nature often makes for a prickly relationship with her traditional mother, who has been devoting herself to finding husbands for Jeeta’s two older sisters. Jeeta believes a woman’s worth is intrinsic and not based on her status as a wife. But Namita and Mohini each marry after brief courtships with men they chose from among those it was arranged for them to meet. What about love? Jeeta isn’t ready for marriage—not even to Neel, the young man she met at the pool and is now secretly seeing in a tender, developing romance. She wants to go to college and study law. At every turn, Jeeta’s convictions are complicated by reality. Her mother thinks she should study science because it will make her more appealing to potential suitors—perhaps they will even look past the darkness of Jeeta’s skin. She can’t deny that her sister Namita’s marriage has turned out to be a happy one. And her best friend Sarina, whose progressive family opened Jeeta’s eyes to new possibilities, isn’t wholly opposed to arranged marriages. Then Jeeta’s sister Mohini reveals that her marriage is a nightmare of abuse, but she fears leaving her husband and bringing shame upon herself and her family. Jeeta’s fear for her sister far outweighs her fear of violating traditional values in a story about a strong and loving family facing the challenges of blending new ideas with old. With complex characters, realistic relationships, and vivid, sensual details of setting and culture, Kashmira Sheth’s brings Jeeta’s life into full relief in story that unfolds with grace and certainty. (MS) ©2006 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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