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.
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 (
Now that her father has lost his job, she has to go to the public middle school. Everyone at her private school knew how 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.