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Red, White, and Whole

by Rajani LaRocca

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25815101,835 (4.38)9
"Reha feels torn between two worlds: school, where she's the only Indian American student, and home, with her family's traditions and holidays. But Reha's parents don't understand why she's conflicted--they only notice when Reha doesn't meet their strict expectations. Reha feels disconnected from her mother, or Amma, although their names are linked--Reha means "star" and Punam means "moon"--but they are a universe apart. Then Reha finds out that her Amma is sick. Really sick. Reha, who dreams of becoming a doctor even though she can't stomach the sight of blood, is determined to make her Amma well again. She'll be the perfect daughter, if it means saving her Amma's life"--… (more)
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» See also 9 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Newbery Honor book

Red, White and Whole is a powerful book in verse about bridging two cultures, family, community, and hope. As Reha tries to figure out where she belongs - in India or America -, her mother is diagnosed with leukemia. Reha had found herself becoming more distanced from her parents, but with her mother's illness she also feels removed from her friends as she copes with it.

Like the character in the story I was also 13 in 1983 so I enjoyed the music and pop culture references (MTV, Walkman, Star Wars).

This is a wonderful story - certainly elevates the middle school novel. It covers heavy topics and the words of Reha's mom may provoke tears, however, this is one of those books to recommend to the tweens in your life. ( )
  AnnesLibrary | Jan 28, 2024 |
This book, written in verse and laden with beautiful symbolism, is highly recommended. It describes a first-generation immigrant experience that many in America can relate to, as well as a powerful story of loss and grief. ( )
  alixfallows | Jan 16, 2024 |
5/5 ( )
  margotlujan | Jan 16, 2024 |
This made me sob. Toward the end of the book the mom dies of leukemia and a month later the daughter gets a letter from her. This kind of thing gets me every time.

Reha is 13 and graduates 8th grade in this story, but I think readers as young as 9 or 10 could enjoy this. There is some very light romance, but mostly it's about the relationship between Reha and her mother and how Reha feels about being Indian-American.

I would almost call this historical fiction because it takes place in the 1980s, but it didn't feel super historical other than the 80s music references.

This was a very quick read for me. It's a novel in verse and I'd guess the word count is closer to that of a short story. I thought the poems were effective. The heart of this book is Reha's internal life and poetry is a perfect form for that.

( )
  LibrarianDest | Jan 3, 2024 |
OMG. This told in verse, #ownvoices, realistic middle grade fiction has my HEART!!! It is an absolutely beautiful story about a young women who is struggling with her identity. She doesn't feel fully American. She doesn't feel fully Indian. She straddles both worlds. Everything becomes more blurred when her mother is diagnosed with leukemia.

Y'all. I CRIED at the ending. It could be because I have Audrey now so mother/daughter stories resonate with me. Could be the utterly beautiful lyricism of Rajani's writing (which I fell in love with in Midsummer's Mayhem--which was not told in verse but still gorgeous). Could because I felt the book's central theme of identity and belonging is something every person can relate to. All I know is I adore this book.

It is very deserving of the Newbery honor that it won. I will be recommending "Red, White, and Whole" from here on out. ( )
  msgabbythelibrarian | Jun 11, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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"Reha feels torn between two worlds: school, where she's the only Indian American student, and home, with her family's traditions and holidays. But Reha's parents don't understand why she's conflicted--they only notice when Reha doesn't meet their strict expectations. Reha feels disconnected from her mother, or Amma, although their names are linked--Reha means "star" and Punam means "moon"--but they are a universe apart. Then Reha finds out that her Amma is sick. Really sick. Reha, who dreams of becoming a doctor even though she can't stomach the sight of blood, is determined to make her Amma well again. She'll be the perfect daughter, if it means saving her Amma's life"--

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