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The Whole Story of Half a Girl

by Veera Hiranandani

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16210124,219 (3.58)1
When Sonia's father loses his job and she must move from her small, supportive private school to a public middle school, the half-Jewish half-Indian sixth-grader experiences culture shock as she tries to navigate the school's unfamiliar social scene, and after her father is diagnosed with clinical depression, she finds herself becoming even more confused about herself and her family.… (more)
  1. 00
    The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen (Originally published as: The Sunita Experiment) by Mitali Perkins (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Also talks about identity of a girl who is of Indian decent living in America.

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Kirkus compares it to [b:Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret|37732|Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret|Judy Blume|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388356524s/37732.jpg|4121], which I think is apt. Sonia, like Margaret, is trying to figure out what it means for her to be "half and half" (Jewish and Indian), to be a good friend, to be a good daughter. Sonia's dad suffers from depression, so add this to the "parents have problems too" collection along with [b:My Life in Dioramas|22928873|My Life in Dioramas|Tara Altebrando|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1424750542s/22928873.jpg|41361552] and many others. Other questions this book asks include: what does it mean for a family to have money, or not, and how does that look different in different families? How do you figure out who you want to be as you move from child to teenager, and how do you keep other people from choosing for you? How do you talk to your parents when they and you all suddenly seem like different people? The writing is deft, the characters are real, the questions have no easy answers -- it's a just about perfect middle grade growing-up book that I can't wait to booktalk to my 6th graders. ( )
  SamMusher | Sep 7, 2019 |
"the whole story of half a girl" was written by veera hiranandani, who apparently has no upper case on her computer. Sonia, our protagonist, sees herself as half Indian (Asian Indian) and half Jewish. Now I believe Judaism is a religion, not an ethnic description of oneself. She is American on her mother's side, Indian on her dad's. Her religion: Jewish, kind of. Except fpr her maternal grandparents there's little tradition-observing or Jewish learning. There's my problem.
As for the story, Sonia's dad loses his job and life changes - a lot. She now must go to a public school, among other changes. Worries about old friends and new are resolved although often with tears, which is to be expected. New teachers, clothes that are different from other kids her age, eating habits - all kinds of areas are explored as Sonia learns to cope with change. The book is very readable and I'm sure many kids will be able to identify with a strict, tired mother and a depressed father and making the cheer leader squad and all of the other adventures Sonia experiences. New friendships and old, lots and lots of tears and Life goes on. (I like her little sister.)
Forget my unhappiness with the premise and you'll find a satisfied reader...
- Betty S. ( )
  cavlibrary | Sep 5, 2016 |
Sonia is a rocked when her dad loses his job and she has to go to public school. She thinks about fitting in at this new school a lot. She's torn between friend jobs, torn between cultures. She notices the dark skin kids and the light skin kids stay separate in the cafeteria. As half-Indian and half-Jewish, she doesn't know where she fits. She becomes a cheerleader but has a hard time navigating the social hierarchy, even with her friend Kate who thinks she could be cool but certainly doesn't seem to step in when Jess gets going.
Then Sonia's dad, who is suffering from depression, disappears. That sends the family reeling.
This book hits on a lot of themes that are central to the middle school experience. Is it simplistic at times, yes. Does all end well, well. But it is an interesting read along the way. ( )
  ewyatt | Jan 26, 2016 |
The Whole Story of Half a Girl. By Veera Hiranandani. Delacorte Press / Random House. 2012. 211 pages. $16.99 hbk. 978-0385741286. Grades 5-8.

When Sonia’s dad loses his job, she is forced to navigate the ins and outs of public school – and to explain her half-Jewish, half-Indian heritage time and again to her classmates. She joins the cheerleading squad and begins to make friends, but problems at home, in addition to middle school hurdles, begin to proliferate. The novel touches upon some important topics for modern-day middle-schoolers: being multiracial and feeling out of place, gaining awareness of one's parents' own adult issues (in this case, job loss and depression) as a child, navigating new social spaces. It makes for a pleasant read, with Sonia as a likeable first-person narrator who showcases a growing maturity throughout the story, even though the plot can be a little a scattered at times and devolves towards the end. Ultimately, this is an enjoyable book, especially for any young tween who has ever felt caught between two worlds. Additional selection. ( )
  tierneyc | Nov 19, 2014 |
Sonia is looking forward to a fun summer hanging out with her best friend Sam and looking forward to rejoining her classmates at the private school she and her little sister attend, come fall. Things change suddenly when her dad gets fired from his job as a salesman for a publishing company. Money becomes tight, she'll have to go to a public school and she and Sam start drifting apart.
Dad starts acting odd, but she likes the fact that he's taken over cooking and doesn't make anything with tofu. She's bothered by the tension between her parents, the fact that mom has to work longer hours at the college where she teaches and her father's abrupt mood changes.
When she starts at the public middle school, Sonia is faced with her own version of culture shock. She's never really thought much about her heritage. She's half Jewish and half Indian and trying to explain whether she's white or black is confusing, even to her. She makes friends with ultra popular Kate and agrees to try out for the sixth grade cheering squad, but at lunch, she's torn because she brings bag lunches while the other girls buy theirs and feels a connection to Alisha, a black girl who is bussed in from Bridgeport because her local school is so bad.
Things seem to be improving when dad gets a new job with another publisher, but it soon becomes apparent to Sonia that her life isn't back on an even keel. Dad is still acting different, Sam has become distant and got the lead part in the play the sixth grade traditionally writes and puts on at her old school. Kate's lifestyle, including frequent trips to the mall, have Sonia questioning her own home and lifestyle and some of the other girls on the cheering squad aren't very friendly.
When her dad vanishes on his way to the airport where he'll fly to Hong Kong on a business trip, it feels like her life is coming apart, but it's really about to begin making sense again. The process isn't without pain and loss, but it helps Sonia realize what's important and who she really is.
This is a quick read, but one with plenty of good aspects to it. Tweens and younger teens who have cultural issues, have experienced depression in a family member or who have had to make adjustments because of family financial problems will relate well to Sonia and her struggles to accept who and what she is. ( )
  sennebec | Sep 25, 2014 |
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I'm in school, sitting with my hair hanging long down the back of my chair, my arm around my best friend, Sam.
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When Sonia's father loses his job and she must move from her small, supportive private school to a public middle school, the half-Jewish half-Indian sixth-grader experiences culture shock as she tries to navigate the school's unfamiliar social scene, and after her father is diagnosed with clinical depression, she finds herself becoming even more confused about herself and her family.

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