cover image The Whole Story of Half a Girl

The Whole Story of Half a Girl

Veera Hiranandani. Delacorte, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-385-74128-6

Just before fifth grade ends, life is sweet for Sonia. She loves the alternative private school that she attends with her best friend Sam, where her half-Jewish, half-Indian background is simply accepted. But when her father loses his job and Sonia must attend public school in the fall, life gets complicated. Sonia’s new school is more racially divided than her old one, and when her racial identity is questioned, she realizes she has never considered what the answers might be. She’s taken in by a group of girls who try out for the cheerleading team, something Sonia comes to love but that doesn’t fit with her self-image. Hardest of all is the depression her father falls into, despite finding a new job. In Hiranandani’s debut novel, Sonia’s struggles are painfully realistic, as she wrestles with how to identify herself, how to cope with her family’s problems, and how to fit in without losing herself. True to life, her problems do not wrap up neatly, but Sonia’s growth is deeply rewarding in this thoughtful and beautifully wrought novel. Agent: Sara Crowe. Ages 9–12. (Jan.)