Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Red, White and Whole

LaRocca, Rajani. Red, White and Whole
February 2nd 2021 by Quill Tree Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Reha is a thirteen year old in 1983. Her family is one of the few Indian ones in town, although they have quite a network in the larger area, and spend weekends with "aunties", "uncles", and plenty of delicious Indian dishes. Reha is concerned about common middle school issues, like wearing the same clothes as her friends, but also understands why her parents want her to study and do well in school. Her friend at school, Rachel, is Jewish and has a much more exciting family life than Reha's quiet existence as an only child. When Reha's mother falls ill and it turns out to be leukemia, Reha's world is shaken. An aunt comes from India to help out, and it is hoped that she can be a bone marrow donor, but she turns out to be pregnant. Reha hopes to be a donor, but isn't a match. Against the background of her mother's illness, Reha continues with her middle school existence, hoping to go to a school dance and having a budding relationship with Pete. Will she and her father be able to cope with whatever happens to her mother. 
Strengths: There are lots of good details about tween life in 1983; music, movies, fashion, and the only instance I can recall of a MIX TAPE! Love that there is a description of how to make one, since my students will have no idea! The portrayal of the two separate parts of Reha's life is interesting, and will speak to many of my students who have family backgrounds in other countries. The fact that this is set almost forty years ago makes it even more fascinating. 
Weaknesses: The first Star Wars movie is referred to as "Star Wars: A New Hope". I don't think it was referred to as anything but "Star Wars" in 1983. (The year I graduated from high school!)
What I really think: I enjoyed the cultural aspect of this, with Reha having an "American friend" and an "Indian friend" and spending her weekend "Indianing". I want my students to read a lot more books about how different tweens navigate their cultural lives. I wish this had been straight prose, because the students at my school are oddly averse to novels in verse, but I know verse novels are more popular elsewhere? 
 Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Shhh--don't tell anybody but I still listen to my cassettes! (though I never made a mix tape back in the day)