Title: The Whole Story of Half a Girl
Author: Veera Hiranandani
Release Date: January 2012
Published By: Delacorte Books
Goodreads Rating: 4.00 stars
Review: When half-Indian Sonia's father loses his job, she's thrown from private school to the frightening world of public education. Away from her sheltered life, she has to choose between the popular girls who want her to try out for cheerleading and the uncool kids. As if things could get any worse, her father disappears, and she starts to question not only if she ever truly knew him, but if her two halves could ever make a whole.
THE WHOLE STORY OF HALF A GIRL features of a sixth grade protagonist and is targeted to a lower middle grade audience, but while it does have a rather "young" feel as suited for this type of novel, this is definitely a book with cross-over appeal. The moral situations Sonia struggles with as well as the resulting lessons rarely get to the preachy side of things and present a compelling enough plot to keep me turning pages.
One aspect of this book that I especially appreciated was the different way of dealing with the popularity chain. This is a common trope in MG and YA, and I was worried the author's approach would just be the same old typical one that I'm more than tired of. However, the situation instead felt very realistic without a straight-out dog-eat-dog hierarchy of kids but rather a more complex dilemma with dimensional characters.
I also liked that a variety of lessons were explored, ranging from the obvious heritage and popularity ones to deeper, more original themes of dealing with a changed parent. Sonia had conflicts within herself, her friends, and her family, and her journey to learning to deal with them, while predictable at points, is quick but gripping.
All in all, THE WHOLE STORY OF HALF A GIRL is a fast read but with plenty of content. The story explores many themes of interest both to younger and older readers, and though the plot borders on predictable quite a bit, it's original enough to somewhat set itself apart from the crowd. I had a hard time putting this one down, and I would recommend it to any fan of middle grade fiction.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This is no way affected my review.