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Red, White, and Whole

af Rajani LaRocca

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler
522398,200 (4.36)Ingen

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This novel in verse is set in the 1980s. Eighth-grader Reha describes her two worlds, Indian and not: at school, the other students are all white; her best friend, Rachel, is Jewish. On the weekend, Reha and her family spend time with other Indian families; Reha's Indian best friend is Sunny. Reha balances this duality as best she can, thinking that her parents don't understand it, but they understand more than she thinks. The same night Reha is allowed to go to her first school dance, her Amma is taken to the hospital. Amma has leukemia, and as she begins chemotherapy, Reha's world changes. But even as her mother battles, help comes from all directions: Prema Auntie flies in from India, Indian friends bring food to the house, Reha's English partner Pete invites her to spend afternoons at his house. It's Pete who, when Reha volunteers to donate bone marrow to her mother if she's a match, tells Reha she's a hero.

An absolute crushing knockout of a book, with themes of immigration, coming of age, and the death of a parent.

See also: Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga, Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Vardarajan


Cells and plasma together are called whole blood,
which is what flows inside us.
Red, white, and whole... (27)

When you are different
you constantly compare. (33)

Sometimes people call in to make requests,
but I don't want to disturb the magic
of hearing the song I want most
without having to ask. (46)

We have no temple in our town, but Amma says we have temples in our hearts. (49)

It feels like we've already entered the future,
while they only live in the past. (59)

No matter where I go,
America or India,
I don't quite fit. (66)

But I am always halfway,
caught between
the life my parents want
and the one I have to live. (68)

A mother gives you life,
nourishes you,
protects you,
helps you when you're hurt.
But sometimes
it feels like too much. (88)

A hero is brave, but not without fear.
Says what they believe is right.
Works to make the world better.
Acts out of love for others. (Pete to Reha, 177)

What does the sky do
when the moon is gone
forever? (197)

You belong to this country, where you are growing up. And you belong to India, where your blood is from. You belong to both, and they belong to you. You will find your way in making those two streams one. You will write your own story, and it will be beautiful, because it is yours. (Amma's aerogramme to Reha, 204) ( )
  JennyArch | Jun 8, 2021 |
Beautifully emotional.

A novel in verse about a thirteen year old in 1983, navigating cultural differences as the daughter of Indian immigrants attending a mostly white school in America while at the same time dealing with her mother’s sudden illness.

The part music (and some of my favorite songs) play in Reha’s life felt so much like what music meant to me at that age.

The relationship with her parents felt so authentic, too, those moments of resenting or being embarrassed by their old school ways such as her mom sewing all her clothes were later followed by poignant moments where Reha comes to appreciate those same things.

I also really loved the friendship/developing romance with her classmate Pete, the sweetness of it, the mutual respect, and just how overall heartening it was to see Reha experience some happiness, some distraction, someone caring for her at such a difficult time.

This definitely has it’s heartbreaking moments, it’s pretty impossible to believe that any reader will get through this without crying at some point, but the author does leave Reha and therefore the reader in a positive place. I loved this book, the characters, the writing, all of it, just perfection. ( )
  SJGirl | Mar 1, 2021 |
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