Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story by Sonia Patel
(Cinco Puntos Press – September 12, 2017)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Powerful, raw and completely unfiltered mature YA that deals with incredibly complex topics
Thanks to Cinco Punto Press for providing me with an advance reader copy for review – all opinions are my own.
This is a BOOK. You know, the kind of book that gets under your skin and makes you wonder…..did I really want to read about all of that? You know……sex trafficking, rape, drugs, child abandonment? Oh, and parental unacceptance of a teen’s gender identity? And bulimia? And racial and cultural identity and colonialism? I mean, it’s not happy. It’s not pretty. It makes you FEEL things. And THINK about things. Things you don’t want to believe exist. It makes you squirm and hate the world for letting these things happen to our children. So, do you really want to read it? Should there be YA books about these topics?
Well, the answer is yes. Yes, I want to read about all of that. And yes, there should be books about these topics. First of all, as a teacher, these issues need to be in front of me. Books need to open my eyes to what teens in our world are dealing with – and Patel knows this firsthand through her work as a psychiatrist working with teens. She knows what she writes. And yes, there are teens who need to read stories like this one. There are teens going through these exact struggles and needing to know they are not alone.
JAYA AND RASA certainly isn’t a book for every teen (because what book is??), but I do recommend that every teacher, administrator and guidance counselor read it. It should be in library collections and guidance offices because even if there is just ONE student who needs it in any given population, it should be available. And as Rasa shows us in the book, we don’t know which teen needs it. I appreciate the terseness of the writing style and the readability of the text, making it accessible to virtually all levels of YA readers.
I thank Patel for having the bravery to write this story and go where the majority of YA authors don’t (won’t?) go.