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on January 28, 2012
Ms. Hiranandani's fantastic debut novel is not only an important and creatively crafted book for young readers but as an adult, I enjoyed the ride back to adolescence connecting to all the joys and heartaches many of us experience. The main character Sonia represents a unique but also universal experience of growing up. Ms. Hiranandani's writing allowed me to connect to Sonia, her friends and family as fully developed characters. I became lost in the book and am now reading it with my son. A fantastic book for parents and young readers to read together!
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on April 4, 2014
My daughters (10 and 12) both read this book in one sitting. They could not put it down. Such a refreshing book--tackles big social issues with wonderful dialogue--fast-paced and keeps the language at middle-grade level. The main character, Sonia, is believable and likable--she deals as best she can with her father's depression, and yet the story remains upbeat and light. So glad we have added this fantastic book to our shelf! Will certainly re-read again and again, and will recommend it to friends!
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on January 21, 2012
When I requested The Whole Story of Half a Girl on NetGalley, I thought it was YA. After reading a few pages, though, it was obvious that this is MG. Sonia is in the 6th grade, and honestly, that made me want to stop reading The Whole Story of Half a Girl - I thought the MC and the story would be too immature and I wouldn't be able to enjoy the book. But since it's such a quick read, I kept reading. And while the novel isn't perfect, and I'm definitely too old for it, it did end up being an enjoyable read.

Despite my wariness of reading from a sixth-grader's point-of-view, I ended up really liking Sonia. She's easy to relate to, despite our age difference, and I really liked how her innocent, young view of life affected her way of seeing and describing things.

I liked reading about the family dynamics, the little sister and her realistic relationship to Sonia, and the father's issues are handled well. I also liked reading about the differences in Sonia's and Kate's families.

The subtlety in The Whole Story of Half a Girl is great. That's one of the things I really liked about the - admittedly few - MGs I've read; they're more subtle than a lot of YA books. It's a great example of showing instead of telling, and that made me really like the characters - Kate, Sam, and the rest of Sonia's characters are all fully-developed characters.

The way the racial issues are handled, however, is only okay, in my opinion. It's too big a deal how everyone at school asks whether Sonia is black or white - honestly, what's the big deal? Have they never seen someone Indian before? The same goes for religion - everyone thinks it's weird that Sonia is Jewish, too, but I didn't get that either - do kids really care whether their peers are Jewish, Christian, or anything else? The focus on those issues at school is too extreme, in my opinion. How Sonia handles those issues, though, I liked - her problems with her identity are relatable and described well.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl is a great coming-of-age story, and a lot of aspects are really well-written, but still, I couldn't enjoy it too much, simply because I'm too old for this kind of book. I recommend it for a younger audience, though - I can see this being an amazing book for someone around Sonia's age.
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VINE VOICEon January 15, 2012
Sonia has always attended the same private school, Community. After Sonia's father loses his job, there's not enough money to send Sonia and her younger sister, Natasha to Community. Come the new school year Sonia will be entering the sixth grade and going to public school for the first time. At her private school Sonia was never questioned about her identity. Though at the new school, some of other students ask Sonia, What are you? Sonia is trying her best to fit in but finding it difficult when she notices that Black and White students do not hangout together at lunch. Sonia, who's father is Indian and mother is Jewish wonders where this leaves her. Soon Sonia must choose who she will be friends with Kate, a popular cheerleader or Alisha who loves to write.

One of the things I loved about this story besides Sonia's voice, if the fact that while this is in part about a girl understanding her identity, this one aspect of the story doesn't overshadow everything else, and I know could've easily happened. Sonia's family is also coping with her father's most recent bout of depression after losing his job. I thought Hiranandani did an excellent job with this part of the storyline. It reminded me of Silhouetted by Blue by Traci L. Jones in which the main characters father also suffers from depression. With all this going on in, the story never feels too heavy, the author is able to keep a light tone. The story moves at a great pace and is filled with wonderful dialogue. A 2011 debut favorite.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus read both via Hiranandani's blog

The Kirkus reviewer compares Sonia to Blume's main character in Are you there God? It's Me, Margaret. That is classic goodness and a lot to live up to and Hiranandani does just that.
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on November 11, 2012
Sonia Nadhamuni's life is going well until her father loses his job and she's pulled out of the private school she adores. Now in a public school, she feels out of place. Her classmates make her uncomfortable with their questions geared towards her name and looks. With an Indian father and Jewish mother, the kids focus is on who she is, what she is, and what religion she practices. Sonia tries to fit in with new friends and cheerleading tryouts, but this doesn't mean she's being true to herself. Meanwhile, at home, things are getting worse with her parents. Her mother, who works longer hours because of the father's job loss, doesn't like all the changes in Sonia's social life and her unemployed father is going through emotional changes that will rock the family. I enjoyed all the elements of family, friendship, and diversity in this middle grade novel.
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on January 29, 2012
Since I am friends with the author (she's an extraordinary person, in addition to her mad writing skills), I decided to buy copies for three 9 and 10 year old girls I know so I could write an unbiased review. First of all, all three girls said "FIVE STARS!" Second, and I think this tells you all you need to know, I will report one quote from each: "I looooooooooved it!" "It was one of those books you read with the flashlight under the blankets because you can't stop reading to go to sleep" and "what are her other books--can I get them, please?"
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on May 17, 2016
The Whole Story of Half a Girl is a title that I was interested in when it first came out, but ultimately didn't read because I was afraid of disliking it for being too young. Well, that was completely unfounded! Sonia is leading a happy, normal life. She has a great family and great friends and she likes her school. So when her parents tell her and her younger sister that their father lost his job and they can't afford the private school anymore, Sonia is upset and confused. It's time for her to face a lot of new things outside of her comfort zone.

I related a lot to Sonia, which is why I enjoyed The Whole Story of Half a Girl so much and didn't mind that our narrator is just 11 years old. I totally remember these feelings very well. Just like Sonia, I switched from a tiny private school to a larger public school in middle school (although for different reasons). I went from knowing everybody to knowing nearly nobody, and having lots of kids question my race just like Sonia did since we're both biracial. I could totally identify with Sonia on not knowing how to respond to that because we look one way, but identify another and then have to explain or choose a side. I really liked how the author showed Sonia coming to terms with her race and religion in the face of all of this confusion.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl is a very short, but very good read. I think we can all relate to Sonia's journey on figuring out who she is, who she wants to be, and where she fits in. I think we've all altered ourselves or left parts out to fit in with others before deciding to just be who we are and finding people to accept us that way. This book has certainly changed my mind on reading Middle Grade. Just like with other age groups, it's just about finding the story and characters that speak to you.
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on August 27, 2014
This book had the potential to be a good book for middle school students. But a couple of things keep it from being that. There are a few things that make it more of a PG-13 book as another reviewer mentioned. I had hoped the author would have used one incident to make a point about how wrong the male character's actions were, but it was just casually addressed by an adult character and then moved on. The party scene is the section that is the most concerning. Not only is the behavior an issue, it also raises serious questions of plagiarism. I had to reread Judy Blume's book "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret?" to see if I was confused. Blume's book, written in 1970, has an almost identical scene - from the description of the party, the dress, the house, kids standing on opposite sides of the room, serving potato salad, using a green or Sprite bottle to play spin the bottle, playing that game first before getting bored and switching to minutes in the closet, etc. I'm surprised no one seems to have questioned this except a few reviewers. There are other aspects of the book that are similar to Blume's book as well. It's disappointing because this book had the opportunity to be a quality book. But the author fell short in too many ways.
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VINE VOICEon January 15, 2012
I really applaud this book for tackling a lot of big issues and balancing them well while keeping the book at a middle-grade level. To start with, this book looks at a young girl in a typical nuclear family, parents and sister, who live a comfortable existence. After her father loses his job, it causes a big shift in the family dynamics and precipitates a lot of change.

This could totally have been an issue book. Sonia's dad loses his job, causing a big change in the family finances and pushing her dad into depression. Sonia has to leave her beloved private school to start sixth grade at public school where she has to navigate mean girls and an entirely different school culture. She also starts to wonder: is she Indian? Is she Jewish? Can she be both? Plus she's growing up and is soon going to be a teenager with all those emotional issues. Basically there's a lot of stuff here! Any one of those could have been the focus of a book. But this one never felt weighted down despite the seriousness, which I would have to say speaks well of the writer. At times some issues were dealt with superficially in my opinion but remember that this is a middle-grade novel and for that age group, I would say it does a good job.

Particularly interesting to me was the family situation. I don't think I've read many books with a depressed character and seeing its impact on this family really struck me. I also really loved Sonia, which is a big plus. She's confused about some of the changes in her life and is just trying to do the best she can. Of course, she makes mistakes (one colossally huge one later in the book) but she always retained my interest and sympathy.

Overall: A very pleasant experience with excellent balance between light and serious for a fast and absorbing read.
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on April 28, 2013
Source: Netgalley

I rated this book a 9 out of 10, because I felt that while this book was wonderful and it made me just feel like I was with Sonia, figuring out what she has to do to solve all of her school problems. I also enjoyed how that, when Sonia's figuring out how to change her life, she has many conflicts with what she does, which to me, makes the story seem more interesting. The more conflicts, the merrier!

I also like how Mrs. Hirandandani wrote the book, having some small conflicts in the beginning, having them partially solved, and then laying a whole other bomb of surprising conflicts. It added some suspense to the story, making it quite enjoyable to read.

Will Sonia make it through the big move? Will she fit in and find the right friends? And all in all, will her family go back to normal, being the happy family they once were? Read the book, `The Whole Story Of Half A Girl' by Veera Hiranandani.
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