The Whole Story of a Half Girl is a the first novel for young readers by Veera Hiranandani. I didn't realize that until I came to the end of the book and read about the author. It was a total surprise to me, as this book seems to come from a seasoned writer. I've already ordered it for the library. With the one exception of a scene reminiscent to one in the awful AYTGIMM, I enjoyed every page.
This is the story of Sonia, a sixth grader going through some big transitions, in addition to the normal misery of middle school. Just before the end of fifth grade, Sonia's father loses his job and her parents tell her that she and her little sister will not be attending The Community School, the private school they have always gone to, come fall. The Community School is the kind of school where diversity is celebrated, each student learns at their own pace and in their own way, there are no grades and the students call their teachers by their first names. I'm not sure if there are really schools like this, but I think it would be cool if there were.
Sonia's father immigrated to the United States from India when he was a boy. Sonia's mother is Jewish. Up until now, Sonia has never really thought about being Indian, or Jewish, or anything but herself. When she is sent to public school, this seems to become a big deal. Some students ask her outright, "What are you?" I like when Sonia replies, "A girl."
Sonia's father is overcome with depression after the loss of his job. I don't know if Hiranandani has a loved one who experienced clinical depression, but she is spot-on in her description.
This book is original, with sympathetic and well developed characters.
Excellent book. My only problem with it was that it was too short, it was that good.