Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani

Review by Lauren

Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own

Official Summary (I would stick to the first paragraph only!): After her father loses his job, Sonia Nadhamuni, half Indian and half Jewish American, finds herself yanked out of private school and thrown into the unfamiliar world of public education. For the first time, Sonia's mixed heritage makes her classmates ask questions—questions Sonia doesn't always know how to answer—as she navigates between a group of popular girls who want her to try out for the cheerleading squad and other students who aren't part of the "in" crowd.

At the same time that Sonia is trying to make new friends, she's dealing with what it means to have an out-of-work parent—it's hard for her family to adjust to their changed circumstances. And then, one day, Sonia's father goes missing. Now Sonia wonders if she ever really knew him. As she begins to look for answers, she must decide what really matters and who her true friends are—and whether her two halves, no matter how different, can make her a whole.

Review: I mention only reading the first paragraph for the summary above because the second part gives away a big moment in the book. Sure, you can read it and still enjoy the book, like I did. However, once I'd read the summary, I found myself waiting for this specific moment to occur and it doesn't until later in the novel. Now that we're past that though, I have to say that I did like this book. It's not a new favorite of mine but it does deal with a lot of important topics in a good way.

Sonia is half Indian (her dad is from India) and half Jewish American (from her mom's side). Her family doesn't really celebrate any Jewish customs though, unless her grandparents are around. This leaves Sonia feeling less than Jewish and not sure what to call herself when it comes to religion. As for her race, she starts getting questions at public school about whether she's black or not. She's not sure what to say because she's lighter than the black kids, but darker than the white kids. Nobody seems to understand that she's half Indian, and Indian as in India and not Native Americans.

I really felt for Sonia because I went to small, private schools until college and I was really nervous about the change. I can't imagine being as young as Sonia and going from a Montessori type school to a public middle school and trying to fit in. She becomes friends with a girl named Alisha, but she starts to ignore her when Kate takes an interest in her. Kate is popular and wants Sonia to be like her. While Sonia likes Alisha and isn't trying to hurt her feelings, she is a bit blind to how she's affecting Alisha and what it might look like since Alisha is black and Kate is white. I hated reading how the black and white kids sit on opposite sides of the lunchroom. It just goes to show that people don't have to be segregated by a government for it to still occur.

Beyond this, Sonia is dealing with family issues since her dad lost his job and is dealing with a lot of depression. It's sad to view it through her eyes since she doesn't fully understand what is going on and she just wants her old dad back.

All in all, this was a good story. I love that it focuses on two important issues in an easy-to-read way. Oh, and this was yet another book for my children's literature class, in case anyone is interested!


Christy @ Love of Books said...

I listened and only read the first part of the blurb. This sounds like an interesting book. I went from a private school to public school in jr. high, and it was a culture shock for sure.

Melliane said...

I didn't know about this one but it sounds interesting even if it's not awesome. I confess I'm quite curious to discover their issues and all.

Melanie said...

I've never heard of this one before, but it does have me very curious about the themes it plays with.

Lovely review, Lauren! <33

Krysten Quiles said...

Sounds like some interesting themes in this book.

Tracy Terry said...

I always think it a bonus when you can relate to a character like this. It sounds like a great thought provoking read, thanks for recommending it.

Kindlemom said...

This does sound really interesting. I am glad you liked it even if it won't be a favorite.

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

That always bothers me when a key part of the book is given away in the synopsis. I hate that!

Alise (Readers In Wonderland) said...

I know what you mean by the synopsis, I've read so many books like that and get disappointed when I find out something mentioned in the summary happens towards the end and it's like-why? Sounds like this one has a good moral though, and I'm glad you enjoyed certain aspects!

Diva Booknerd said...

What is it with the synopsis lately blurting out plot spoilers. Usually readers need to skim reviews as to not alter their option when they've decided to read it, but spoiling it before we even pick it up? It's unavoidable. I scrolled over that second paragraph. Thanks for the warning. This one sounds really interesting actually, I love visiting your blog. You review books that aren't generally on my radar and I'm finding lots of brilliant new reads. Fabulous review <3

DMS said...

This sounds like a good book and I am happy you told us to only read the first paragraph. Thanks! I prefer to have books take me by surprise and don't like when big moments are spoiled. :) Thanks for sharing.

Liviania said...

I really hate when summaries give away important things.