Rani Patel in Full Effect

313p. ebook available. further reading. glossary. Cinco Puntos. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781941026496; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781941026502.
RedReviewStarGr 10 Up—On Molokai in the early 1990s, Rani Patel lives the life of the ultimate outsider. A quiet class council member of Indian descent whose relationship with her parents is deeply dysfunctional, she takes comfort only in hip-hop and rap. Her unrequited crushes on two local guys lead her into the underground rap scene, where she tests her skills as MC Sutra, but as she begins to forge an identity, her family and romantic relationships threaten to pull her under. Rani is a flawed character whose poor choices make her somewhat unlikable but also reflect a realistic reaction to her troubled family past—her mother ignores her, and her father sees her as a wife replacement (the book contains instances of incest). The teen seeks love and acceptance wherever she can find it, and through rap she is able to express her struggles and discover a community that embraces her unreservedly. The dialogue, which incorporates a bit of Hawaiian pidgin, Gujarati, and hip-hop slang, can require the use of the included glossary but enhances the understanding of Rani's place at the convergence of multiple cultures. Her story will appeal to readers who prefer gritty, darker fiction without a pat, happy ending, and characters who don't always overcome their challenges but must face them repeatedly.
VERDICT A strong, unique choice for YA collections.

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