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Red, White, and Whole



by
Rajani LaRocca

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Quill Tree
Imprint
Print
ISBN
9780063047426
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism
$16.80
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JLG Category

Advanced Readers

A heartbreakingly hopeful novel in verse by an author to watch, about an Indian American girl whose life is turned upside down when her mother is diagnosed with leukemia.

Reha feels torn between two worlds: school, where she’s the only Indian American student, and home, with her family and their close-knit community. But Reha’s parents don’t understand why she’s conflicted—they only notice when Reha doesn’t meet their strict expectations. Reha feels especially disconnected from her mother, or Amma.

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, even if it means giving up her attempts to fit in at school, if it means saving her Amma’s life.

From Indies Introduce author Rajani LaRocca comes a radiant #ownvoices novel in verse that she describes as the book of her heart about the ties that bind and how to go on in the face of unthinkable loss.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

224

Trim Size

8 3/10" x 5 1/2"

Dewey

F

AR

5.3: points 3

Genre

Fiction

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Apr 2021

Book Genres

Fiction

Topics

East Indian Americans. Friendship. Sick parents. Leukemia. Family life. Middle school. Conduct of life. The 1980s. 

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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 5 Up–Indian American middle schooler Reha navigates growth and loss in this 1980s coming-of-age novel in verse. Thirteen-year-old Reha deals with ordinary concerns; she tries to stay true to her Indian culture while growing up with in the United States, and she grapples with a crush on a classmate. When her mother suddenly gets sick with leukemia, Reha’s ordinary everyday concerns fade away and are replaced with the belief that if she is as virtuous as possible, she will save her mother’s life. As the story goes on, Reha deals with her grief and builds a strong support network of friends and family to help her face her mother’s illness. References to musicians such as Pat Benatar, the Beach Boys, and Cyndi Lauper firmly set this story in the 1980s, but the story otherwise feels modern. Reha’s story is slow to start but quickly ramps up. Readers will be invested in her relationships with her parents and friends and will enjoy the evocative verse and emotional stakes. ­VERDICT A recommended purchase, perfect for fans of Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga and Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton.–Kelsey Socha, Westfield Athenaeum, Westfield, MA

Horn Book

It’s 1983, and thirteen-year-old Reha feels she has “two lives.” In one, she’s a serious student who tries to make her Indian immigrant parents proud but is seen as an outsider (who speaks “Indian”) at her predominantly white school. In her other life, Reha, who doesn’t actually speak her parents’ native languages, feels that “no matter where I go, / America or India, / I don’t quite fit.” These feelings intensify when her Amma (mother) is diagnosed with leukemia, goes through several rounds of chemotherapy, and ultimately, succumbs to her illness. Composed of short, metaphor-rich poems, this verse novel weaves together complex narrative strands with sophistication. It does the double duty of giving voice to the hyphenated American experience and navigation of dual identities, while also representing the illness and loss of a parent with tenderness and fidelity to the stages of grief. Blood is a predominant metaphor, but it’s not gross. The “red, white, and while” of the title refers to “whole blood… the precious river in our arteries, our veins, our hearts,” and represents both Amma’s illness and Reha’s more abstract yearning to belong wholly to one place. Give this emotionally powerful novel to immigrant, third-culture kids or anyone experiencing grief and loss. JULIE HAKIM AZZAM

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 5 Up–Indian American middle schooler Reha navigates growth and loss in this 1980s coming-of-age novel in verse. Thirteen-year-old Reha deals with ordinary concerns; she tries to stay true to her Indian culture while growing up with in the United States, and she grapples with a crush on a classmate. When her mother suddenly gets sick with leukemia, Reha’s ordinary everyday concerns fade away and are replaced with the belief that if she is as virtuous as possible, she will save her mother’s life. As the story goes on, Reha deals with her grief and builds a strong support network of friends and family to help her face her mother’s illness. References to musicians such as Pat Benatar, the Beach Boys, and Cyndi Lauper firmly set this story in the 1980s, but the story otherwise feels modern. Reha’s story is slow to start but quickly ramps up. Readers will be invested in her relationships with her parents and friends and will enjoy the evocative verse and emotional stakes. ­VERDICT A recommended purchase, perfect for fans of Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga and Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton.–Kelsey Socha, Westfield Athenaeum, Westfield, MA

Horn Book

It’s 1983, and thirteen-year-old Reha feels she has “two lives.” In one, she’s a serious student who tries to make her Indian immigrant parents proud but is seen as an outsider (who speaks “Indian”) at her predominantly white school. In her other life, Reha, who doesn’t actually speak her parents’ native languages, feels that “no matter where I go, / America or India, / I don’t quite fit.” These feelings intensify when her Amma (mother) is diagnosed with leukemia, goes through several rounds of chemotherapy, and ultimately, succumbs to her illness. Composed of short, metaphor-rich poems, this verse novel weaves together complex narrative strands with sophistication. It does the double duty of giving voice to the hyphenated American experience and navigation of dual identities, while also representing the illness and loss of a parent with tenderness and fidelity to the stages of grief. Blood is a predominant metaphor, but it’s not gross. The “red, white, and while” of the title refers to “whole blood… the precious river in our arteries, our veins, our hearts,” and represents both Amma’s illness and Reha’s more abstract yearning to belong wholly to one place. Give this emotionally powerful novel to immigrant, third-culture kids or anyone experiencing grief and loss. JULIE HAKIM AZZAM

Grades 6-9
Advanced Readers
For Grades 6-9

Your pre-teen and teen readers won't be able to get enough of these selections. The 12 books here are a bit longer than our B category titles, with more challenging storylines and a wealth of thought-provoking nonfiction.

12 books per Year
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Interests
Clean Books,Diversity,Fiction,High Interest/Reluctant Reader,Struggling Readers,Novels,Funny/Humorous,Realistic Fiction
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Grades 6-9
Advanced Readers
12 books per Year
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