The Whole Story of Half a Girl

by Veera Hiranandani

Book, 2012



Call number




New York : Delacorte Press, 2012.


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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ethel55
This is such a well written story of a young girl named Sonia and the turns her life takes after her father loses his job. Sonia and her sister Natasha will have to switch to public school, after years at a Montessori-like private school. Sonia's middle school is different. Not only does Sonia have
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to take the bus, but for the first time, people trip over her Indian last name and wonder at her place in the order of things. Trying out for cheerleading seems to be the thing to do, and picked as an alternate, she wonders if that will always be the case. I really liked the family dynamic in this book. Her mother and father tell Sonia and Natasha what they need to know about his job loss, and some of the troubles it entails. Her parents are realistically present in the story, not absent or completely befuddled, like in a Disney sit-com.
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LibraryThing member librarybrandy
Sonia's dad lost his job at the end of last school year, and the whole family has to make adjustments: her mom is teaching a ton more classes, and to save money, Sonia and her little sister are switched into public school. Public school is really different from her tiny, beloved Community School:
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Sonia has to navigate the various cliques (including the cheerleaders, who want to recruit her, and the outsiders, who just plain like her) while figuring out how to deal with a school where all the white kids sit together and all the black kids sit together--and where does she, with her half-Indian, half-Jewish heritage, fit in? Her mom doesn't like her new friends and her dad has been really moody and sometimes mean--right up until he disappears.

Issues of identity will resonate with nearly all middle-schoolers, particularly those of mixed ethnicities. Also deals with mental health, unemployment, and shifting social groups. I'm a little disappointed in things that were never addressed (the not-great white girl makes the cheer squad ahead of the more-talented Indian girl, for instance; also curious about the friend's financial situation, where the parents have penty of money without working much) but they're not enough to make me hold back a recommendation. Middle-grade, probably best for 6th grade or so.
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LibraryThing member theeclecticreview
Sonia has learned that her father has lost his job and he isn't acting like himself. She wonders what he does in his study that makes him feel better. That's not the only change.

Now that her father has lost his job, she has to go to the public middle school. Everyone at her private school knew how
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to say her name, Sonia Nadhamuni. Now she has to pronounce it for all the new kids.

Sonia is on a journey to figure out her cultural identity, her status in school, her family's future and her personal well being. By the end of the book I believe she is on her way to figuring it out.

This is a good coming of age novel that hits home for many pre-teens and teens. Adolescence is a formidable time and Sonia tackles it with determination and style. The situations are real and the characters are interesting.

Thank you to Ms. Veera Hiranandani, Random House Children's Books and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book.
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LibraryThing member robincar
After her father loses his job, Sonia Nadhamuni’s world turns upside down. She has to leave her private school and go to the public middle school. At her new school, Sonia finds a whole new experience like trying to explain her half-Indian, half-Jewish heritage and being torn between being
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friends with a group of popular girls or a group of kids don’t quite fit in. Sonia faces changes at home as well with her father out of work and dealing with depression and her mother working longer hours to make ends meet. Can Sonia discover who her true friends are and fit in while still being herself? Sonia’s story should resonate with middle school students who face the same issues of fitting in and self-identity. The book deals with a number of themes including depression, multiracial families, self-identity, cultural identity, and coming of age.
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LibraryThing member sennebec
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member reader1009
diverse children's middlegrade realistic fiction (half-Indian/half-Jewish 6th grader is new in school and also has to deal with her father's depression).

I felt Sonia was kinda whiny--but realistically so, and her story is significant because of her diverse background (which we definitely need to
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see more of in kids' lit) and because of the situation with her dad (which I think is also important for kids to read about and be able to talk about).
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LibraryThing member tierneyc
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
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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, experiencing your parents’ 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.
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