Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The Whole Story of Half a Girl
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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.