I'm kind of obsessed with this book. Jaya and Rasa is the second book from author Sonia Patel. I'd seen her debut, Rani Patel in Full Effect, several times and was always drawn towards the cover, but I don't have a huge interest in hip hop culture, so I never picked it up. When I crossed paths with Jaya and Rasa and saw the Nirvana links, I knew I had to read this it. And am I glad I did! Here's my review from Book Riot's Best Queer Books of 2017:
I rarely, oh so very rarely, appreciate non-fantastical YA. I fell head over heels for Sonia Patel’s newest, Jaya and Rasa, from the moment I spotted its stunning cover in the library. I appreciate so much getting to know these two wounded characters from pre-adolescence. Jaya is a transgender teenage boy, something his traditionally-minded Gujarati family would never accept. Despite not being able open up at home, he manages to find his own identity thanks to Nirvana, guitars, charity work, and a best friend who also doesn’t fit in well at his snooty prep school. Rasa has been forced to grow up too fast thanks to being forced to become provider to her younger siblings. When she thinks things might be looking up, despite CPS separating her from her younger brother and sisters, she finds herself trapped in the life of a high-end prostitute. Jaya and Rasa is less Romeo and Juliet in Honolulu, as it’s been billed, and more of a painfully honest look at what growing up “other” is like. Nothing is sugar-coated, the reality is bleak and honest, but Patel gives us just a bright enough glimmer of hope to keep reading, to keep going.
For this Book Style, I envisioned an evolved and more relaxed Rasa. A Rasa who is finally healing and not feeling the need to be overly sexualized 24/7. A Rasa who loves, supports, and shares passions with her rock star boyfriend. A Nirvana tee was a must, of course. I paired the t-shirt with a pair of "Love Story" flares and "Oahu" platform slides. So, basically, I made this into my standard high school uniform. Class of 2002, baby! Woo! Anyways, I digress. I also gave Rasa the option of having a swimsuit handy since she loves to surf and free dive. I thought this "Teen Spirit" one piece was kind of perfect. It also makes me want sorbet.
For the accessories I chose a neon pink "Sweety Charity" bag as a nod to Jaya's charity work and a "Munro Blossom Muse" scarf because I'm pretty sure Jaya wouldn't argue with me calling Rasa a Blossom Muse. Around the neck is a "Pimp Aigrette" stunner of a necklace, around the wrist is an "LGBT Pride Awareness" bracelet, and on the ring finger (or whichever finger) is a guitar wrap ring. For the earrings I decided on mixing two singles together: One ear can rock the "White Widow Leaf" ear jacket, which I chose because I prefer Rasa being a white widow instead of the black widow her mother conditioned her to be, and the other ear can rock a hoop with a chunk of molten rock, apropos of Hawaii, of course.
For the final touches I went with cosmetics. Elizabeth and James' "Nirvana White" perfume is a floral, slightly exotic scent that is perfect for Rasa. She can coat her nails in a holographic and glittery "Crush on Lava" nail lacquer and coat her lips with "Shame" lipstick (to remind herself that she should never feel ashamed). Top off the look with a retro-tastic pair of "Classic 11 Surf" shades and Rasa's look is complete.