Book Reviews of Jasmine

Jasmine
Jasmine
Author: Bharati Mukherjee
ISBN-13: 9780802136305
ISBN-10: 0802136303
Publication Date: 4/5/1999
Pages: 241
Rating:
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 30

3.4 stars, based on 30 ratings
Publisher: Grove Press
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

12 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Jasmine on + 52 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This novel relates both the odyssey and the metamorphosis of a young immigrant from rural India. Her story is often shocking: the violence of the rape that greets her on her first night in America is certainly no greater than that of the crazed Sikh extremists who made her a widow at age 17 in India. Yet neither the character nor her story is held back by this violence. Along the way Jaze acquires three children, including Du, a Vietnamese boy who like herself is an immigrant. Finally, still only in her early twenties, Jaze takes off to pursue her own version of the American dream. The novel has a delicious humor and sexiness that make it a treat to read. The author is this year's winner of the National Book Critics Circle fiction award for The Middleman and Other Stories
reviewed Jasmine on + 54 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
....very good story about a young woman that survived and did well despite cutural differences and language barriers. Written in a way that keeps your interest and causes you to identify with her.
reviewed Jasmine on
The book is interesting; I'll give it that. However, there were a few things that bothered me.

The fine print you can see at the upper left of the cover of another paperback edition has a quote from the New York Times Book Review: "...One of the most suggestive [What on earth does that mean?] novels we have about what it is to become an American."

Don't read it to find out what it is to become an American. It is more about what it means to be a slightly flaky, very aware, and very determined and tough Indian girl. From beginning to end, while she is thrown into a variety of bewilderingly different circumstances, she doesn't really change, and somehow, I did not find the story line, with all its abrupt changes, convincing. Its separate components seemed thrown together.

Language was another big problem for me. Despite frequent references to Jasmine's not knowing enough English or her getting to understand it, she is the narrator and the book barrels along with conversations packed with slang and specialized vocabulary that Jasmine apparently takes in without any trouble at all. You feel that you are getting glimpses of the author speaking, rather than the narrator.

At a stage where she is about to go live with an American family for the first time and take care of their daughter, she describes their apartment as being like a museum, containing, among other things, "...slave-auction posters from New Orleans in 1850, speaking of healthy wenches and strong bucks...a poster of a naked woman with parts of her body labeled choice, prime, or chuck, as in a butcher shop." So did she go straight to her dictionary (I don't recall one being mentioned.) and look up "wenches" and "bucks," and did she already know the names of the cuts of beef, or are we to believe that all along, she was blessed with total recall of every new word she saw so that years later she could use it in describing her American experience? Obviously, it would be very hard to write this sort of novel while restricting oneself to the vocabulary of an illegal immigrant from an Indian village; using an omniscient narrator would have solved the problem.

This I will grant. The blurb on the back cover is correct when it says that "her story depicts the shifting contours of an America being transformed by her and others like her--our new neighbors, friends, and lovers." The story does not, however, "illuminate the making of an American mind," just her native resourcefulness, toughness, and--some might say--selfishness. In the end, I confess that I didn't find her a sympathetic character, and it wasn't because she had to struggle.

What I liked about the book: Glimpses of life in India and Indian customs. The book is interesting and the dialog well-written (apart from the multitudinous cases of language incongruity that I have mentioned). Will I keep it? No. Will I urge friends to read it? No.
reviewed Jasmine on + 7 more book reviews
Full of surprises.
Across continents and through several identities Mukherjee treats the reader to a very well developed Hindu protagonist reaching for more after being widowed at seventeen, coming to America for the "dream" and finding some disheartening realities. If you get hung up on an ethnic protagonist forget about it, because in this well woven, quick moving story, Mukherjee capture's the essence of a young woman's mind struggling, and evolving as she does whatever she can to survive and hopefully find AND keep love.
reviewed Jasmine on + 59 more book reviews
Not for me but my friend raved about it. It's written in a way almost poetic, as if you have to translate it to read it. Which of course, may be the point.
reviewed Jasmine on + 33 more book reviews
I've read several books about the Indian experience, and this one was hard for me to get into. It began with her life in Iowa with all these characters running around without a proper introduction. She makes you have to figure out through their interactions, who they are, allowing little hints here and there on their identity. Then it goes back in time to the character's youth and pieces of her life in India as well as Manhattan, again with all these characters you have to identify. Frankly, I got bored. Maybe I'm not sophisticated enough to appreciate it, but I like my books to follow a more seamless stream of thought. I didn't finish it, I skipped to the end, which I also found unsatisfying.
reviewed Jasmine on + 59 more book reviews
Interesting look at assimilation.
reviewed Jasmine on + 302 more book reviews
My daughter and I both enjoyed this book. It discusses her life in India and her escape to the U.S. From Florida to NYC to Iowa. I liked the way it went back and forth between present and past, memories are not a straight line. She is a survivor and her story was unusual.
reviewed Jasmine on
The book is interesting; I'll give it that. However, there were a few things that bothered me.

The fine print you can see at the upper left of the cover of another paperback edition has a quote from the New York Times Book Review: "...One of the most suggestive [What on earth does that mean?] novels we have about what it is to become an American."

Don't read it to find out what it is to become an American. It is more about what it means to be a slightly flaky, very aware, and very determined and tough Indian girl. From beginning to end, while she is thrown into a variety of bewilderingly different circumstances, she doesn't really change, and somehow, I did not find the story line, with all its abrupt changes, convincing. Its separate components seemed thrown together.

Language was another big problem for me. Despite frequent references to Jasmine's not knowing enough English or her getting to understand it, she is the narrator and the book barrels along with conversations packed with slang and specialized vocabulary that Jasmine apparently takes in without any trouble at all. You feel that you are getting glimpses of the author speaking, rather than the narrator.

At a stage where she is about to go live with an American family for the first time and take care of their daughter, she describes their apartment as being like a museum, containing, among other things, "...slave-auction posters from New Orleans in 1850, speaking of healthy wenches and strong bucks...a poster of a naked woman with parts of her body labeled choice, prime, or chuck, as in a butcher shop." So did she go straight to her dictionary (I don't recall one being mentioned.) and look up "wenches" and "bucks," and did she already know the names of the cuts of beef, or are we to believe that all along, she was blessed with total recall of every new word she saw so that years later she could use it in describing her American experience? Obviously, it would be very hard to write this sort of novel while restricting oneself to the vocabulary of an illegal immigrant from an Indian village; using an omniscient narrator would have solved the problem.

This I will grant. The blurb on the back cover is correct when it says that "her story depicts the shifting contours of an America being transformed by her and others like her--our new neighbors, friends, and lovers." The story does not, however, "illuminate the making of an American mind," just her native resourcefulness, toughness, and--some might say--selfishness. In the end, I confess that I didn't find her a sympathetic character, and it wasn't because she had to struggle.

What I liked about the book: Glimpses of life in India and Indian customs. The book is interesting and the dialog well-written (apart from the multitudinous cases of language incongruity that I have mentioned). Will I keep it? No. Will I urge friends to read it? No.
reviewed Jasmine on
The book is interesting; I'll give it that. However, there were a few things that bothered me.

The fine print you can see at the upper left of the cover of this edition has a quote from the New York TImes Book Review: "...One of the most suggestive [What on earth does that mean?] novels we have about what it is to become an American."

Don't read it to find out what it is to become an American. It is more about what it means to be a slightly flaky, very aware, and very determined and tough Indian girl. From beginning to end, while she is thrown into a variety of bewilderingly different circumstances, she doesn't really change, and somehow, I did not find the story line, with all its abrupt changes, convincing. Its separate components seemed thrown together.

Language was another big problem for me. Despite frequent references to Jasmine's not knowing enough English or her getting to understand it, she is the narrator and the book barrels along with conversations packed with slang and specialized vocabulary that Jasmine apparently takes in without any trouble at all. You feel that you are getting glimpses of the author speaking, rather than the narrator.

At a stage where she is about to go live with an American family for the first time and take care of their daughter, she describes their apartment as being like a museum, containing, among other things, "...slave-auction posters from New Orleans in 1850, speaking of healthy wenches and strong bucks...a poster of a naked woman with parts of her body labeled choice, prime, or chuck, as in a butcher shop." So did she go straight to her dictionary (I don't recall one being mentioned.) and look up "wenches" and "bucks," and did she already know the names of the cuts of beef, or are we to believe that all along, she was blessed with total recall of every new word she saw so that years later she could use it in describing her American experience? Obviously, it would be very hard to write this sort of novel while restricting oneself to the vocabulary of an illegal immigrant from an Indian village; using an omniscient narrator would have solved the problem.

This I will grant. The blurb on the back cover is correct when it says that "her story depicts the shifting contours of an America being transformed by her and others like her--our new neighbors, friends, and lovers." The story does not, however, "illuminate the making of an American mind," just her native resourcefulness, toughness, and--some might say--selfishness. In the end, I confess that I didn't find her a sympathetic character, and it wasn't because she had to struggle.

What I liked about the book: Glimpses of life in India and Indian customs. The book is interesting and the dialog well-written (apart from the multitudinous cases of language incongruity that I have mentioned). Will I keep it: No. Will I urge friends to read it: No.
reviewed Jasmine on
The book is interesting; I'll give it that. However, there were a few things that bothered me.

The fine print you can see at the upper left of the cover of this edition has a quote from the New York TImes Book Review: "...One of the most suggestive [What on earth does that mean?] novels we have about what it is to become an American."

Don't read it to find out what it is to become an American. It is more about what it means to be a slightly flaky, very aware, and very determined and tough Indian girl. From beginning to end, while she is thrown into a variety of bewilderingly different circumstances, she doesn't really change, and somehow, I did not find the story line, with all its abrupt changes, convincing. Its separate components seemed thrown together.

Language was another big problem for me. Despite frequent references to Jasmine's not knowing enough English or her getting to understand it, she is the narrator and the book barrels along with conversations packed with slang and specialized vocabulary that Jasmine apparently takes in without any trouble at all. You feel that you are getting glimpses of the author speaking, rather than the narrator.

At a stage where she is about to go live with an American family for the first time and take care of their daughter, she describes their apartment as being like a museum, containing, among other things, "...slave-auction posters from New Orleans in 1850, speaking of healthy wenches and strong bucks...a poster of a naked woman with parts of her body labeled choice, prime, or chuck, as in a butcher shop." So did she go straight to her dictionary (I don't recall one being mentioned.) and look up "wenches" and "bucks," and did she already know the names of the cuts of beef, or are we to believe that all along, she was blessed with total recall of every new word she saw so that years later she could use it in describing her American experience? Obviously, it would be very hard to write this sort of novel while restricting oneself to the vocabulary of an illegal immigrant from an Indian village; using an omniscient narrator would have solved the problem.

This I will grant. The blurb on the back cover is correct when it says that "her story depicts the shifting contours of an America being transformed by her and others like her--our new neighbors, friends, and lovers." The story does not, however, "illuminate the making of an American mind," just her native resourcefulness, toughness, and--some might say--selfishness. In the end, I confess that I didn't find her a sympathetic character, and it wasn't because she had to struggle.

What I liked about the book: Glimpses of life in India and Indian customs. The book is interesting and the dialog well-written (apart from the multitudinous cases of language incongruity that I have mentioned). Will I keep it? No. Will I urge friends to read it? No.
reviewed Jasmine on + 65 more book reviews
haven't read this book