cover image Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story

Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story

Sonia Patel. Cinco Puntos (Consortium, dist.), $11.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 97

Jaya Mehta and Rasa Santos are an unlikely pair, but when they meet in the mountains of Hawaii, an “honest love” flourishes between them. Jaya, a transgender teen from a wealthy Gujarati Indian family, finds solace in the heavy guitar riffs of Nirvana, which provide an escape from bullying, his parents’ dysfunctional marriage, and his loneliness. Rasa, raised in a shack by a mother who works as a prostitute, has had to scramble to provide for her younger siblings, resorting to prostitution herself at age 13. Both Jaya and Rasa find understanding and acceptance in their whirlwind romance, even as the expectations and maneuverings of the adults in their lives loom large. Patel’s third-person narration shifts between the two teenagers, though the brutal details of Rasa’s story—including that her mother groomed Rasa to follow in her footsteps—sometimes overshadow Jaya’s perspective. Readers may be surprised that half the book goes by before Rasa and Jaya even meet, but Patel (Rani Patel in Full Effect) writes with fierce simplicity throughout, allowing the gritty beauty of her story to shine. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)