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Haunting Jasmine
Anjali Banerjee
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INTRODUCTION

Divorcee Jasmine Mistry is intent on restarting her life when she gets the chance to do just that. A call from the past brings her home to Shelter Island, a green dot in the middle of Puget Sound, to run her beloved aunt's bookstore. The familiarity is heartening—the rocky beaches, pewter skies, country boutiques, and above all, Auntie's Bookstore, nestled in a quaint Queen Anne Victorian, and believed, not incidentally, to be haunted.

With that knowledge, Jasmine embarks on a mystical journey, urged along by her quirky family, guided by the highly emotional spirits of long-dead authors, and moved to heal her broken heart when she falls unexpectedly in love with an enigmatic young stranger. He knows about blurring the lines between reality and illusion. He opens new doors between truth and fantasy. In redefining the meaning of everlasting love, he urges Jasmine to reinvent herself in a place she calls home. All she has to do is close her eyes and say yes.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Discuss the relationship between Jasmine and her aunt Ruma. In what ways does Ruma serve as a guide to Jasmine throughout the novel, despite the fact that she's in India for much of the story?

  2. Throughout the novel, there are several instances in which Jasmine attempts to push herself more towards the back end of running Ruma's bookstore. Why do you think she prefers to work behind the scenes? Do you find her gradual comfort in dealing with the customers telling in regards to her healing from her divorce?

  3. Discuss each of the authors who speak to Jasmine during her time working in the store. In what ways do they each expose deficiencies in different areas of her life that she didn't realize were hurting? Is there a single message that they are each attempting to deliver to her?

  4. While catching up with Sanchita, Jasmine notices "a touch of emptiness in her eyes, as if a part of her has vacated the premises" (p. 82). Why do you think Jasmine was so sensitive to Sanchita's inner struggle with the direction her life was taking, when her own family members were not? In what ways do you find their situations similar?

  5. Discuss the book group meeting at the store. In what ways does this group of women serve as a support structure for Jasmine as she begins to carve out a new life for herself? In what ways does Tony also fill this role?

  6. What do you believe was Connor's role in the context of the story? Was it solely to help Jasmine overcome her reticence to open her heart again, or do you think he also served a different purpose?

  7. Many literary classics, both for adults and young readers, play an intregal role throughout Haunting Jasmine. Do you think that any of the main characters are drawn from the heroes and heroines in the novels referenced throughout?

  8. How much do you believe Jasmine's culture affects her decisions throughout the novel? Consider the dinner scene with Sanchita, where Jasmine learns she's married to a "nice Indian doctor." Is there any truth to the idea that she may have married Rob partly out of rebellion?

  9. Discuss Jasmine and Ruma's 'special talent.' How much of this do you believe comes from within them, and how much of it is drawn from the store? Do you believe that their abilities help them repair their own lives as well as those around them?

  10. Jasmine works throughout the novel to land a big account for her firm. Despite her eventual success, she decides to quit and return to Shelter Island to run the bookstore for her aunt. Discuss the different reasons why she chose to do this. Do you think the bookstore now represents a place of comfort in her life? What do you believe were Ruma's reasons for leaving the bookstore in Jasmine's care?

  11. Discuss the store itself throughout the novel. In what ways does the store serve as almost the main character? Do you think Shelter Island would be the same place without it?