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23 February 2011

(Blog Tour) Guest Post: Author Neesha Meminger

I am pleased to welcome author Neesha Meminger to An Avid Reader's Musings today. Neesha will be discussing her latest book, JAZZ IN LOVE (read my review here).

Jasbir, a.k.a. Jazz, has always been a stellar student and an obedient, albeit wise-cracking, daughter. Everything has gone along just fine--she has good friends in the "genius" program she's been in since kindergarten, her teachers and principal adore her, and her parents dote on her. But now, in her junior year of high school, her mother hears that Jazz was seen hugging a boy on the street and goes ballistic. Mom immediately implements the Guided Dating Plan, which includes setting up blind dates with "suitable," pre-screened Indian candidates. The boy her mother sets her up with, however, is not at all what anyone expects; and the new boy at school, the very UNsuitable hottie, is the one who sets Jazz's blood boiling. When Jazz makes a few out-of-the-ordinary decisions, everything explodes, and she realizes she'll need a lot more than her genius education to get out of the huge mess she's in. Can Jazz find a way to follow her own heart, and still stay in the good graces of her parents?

JAZZ IN LOVE is about a young girl who goes against her parents wishes in order to follow her heart. As a teenager did you ever disagree with your parents on a major issue? What was it and how did you resolve the disagreement? What advice would you give teenagers who are in a similar predicament to Jazz, be it about a boy, participating in an activity, or something else?

The hair-cutting scene in JAZZ IN LOVE was directly inspired by my real-life experiences. I was not allowed to cut my hair, or shave my legs and underarms, and I went ahead and did all of the above anyway. Hey, it was social survival! My parents did not understand and were not in the least sympathetic to my struggles in conformity, so they responded in much the same way as Jazz's did, only amplified about a thousand times (truly). I will admit that my teenage years probably aged my mother far faster than she would've aged otherwise (sorry, Mom!).

Craig Blankenhorn, copyright 2010
I also wasn't allowed to date or go out with friends, wear makeup or skirts, or speak to boys I was not related to. Again, I did all of the above anyway, and had to face the explosive fallout :). I don't know if I would advocate other teens using the same approach I took to deal with my parents' restrictions. I only took those risks because (1) the payoff, to me, was worth whatever came after; and (2) I knew, on some level, that my parents would still love and support me in the end, after they were done ranting and raving and doling out punishments.

But what I always tell teens is that it's very important to know yourself, i.e. what you're willing to put up with, what you're willing to risk, and whether you are prepared for the worst and best case scenarios (it's important to play out both in your mind before assessing a risk); and to know your parents/guardians and their limits. Caregivers differ greatly in their styles and where one might be lenient, another might be far stricter and less flexible. So, it's very important to be clear and aware of your own situation when determining whether a particular action, behavior, or strategy would work for YOU. And as with anything else, it is of the utmost importance to be SAFE in whatever you do. If your primary caregiver/s don't know what you're up to, make sure *someone* that you trust and know well, does. And, if at all possible, find an adult - an aunt, grandparent, older cousin, teacher, counselor, neighbor, whatever - to confide in. You don't have to share *everything*, but it's important to seek different points of view from the adults around you - parents are always biased when it comes to their own kids ;-).

Great advice for teens, Neesha! Thanks for stopping by today and thanks also to The Teen {Book} Scene for arranging the JAZZ IN LOVE Blog Tour.

To learn more about Neesha Meminger and her writing, visit her website here.

JAZZ IN LOVE description and cover art courtesy of Goodreads.


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