Red, White, and Whole

HarperAudio. 2021. 239p. $22.99. ISBN 9781799948483.
Gr 3-8–“I have two lives. / One that is Indian, / one that is not,” 13-year-old Reha introduces herself. During the week, she “swim[s] in a river of white skin” at school; “on weekends / [she] “float[s] in a sea of brown skin and black hair and dark eyes.” Her Indian immigrant parents seem to be at odds with her longing “to be like everyone else / to fit in.” But then Reha’s mother falls seriously ill, and the family must come together for an unimaginable future. With tragedy looming, Reha figures out how to unite her weekday and weekend selves and will herself whole. Priya Ayyar gently conveys Reha’s burgeoning independence and her courageous resolve, enabling Indian American LaRocca’s novel in verse to flow smoothly between two cultures, two worlds, and two identities as Reha finds her place as daughter, niece, and friend.
VERDICT Although the narrative is set in 1983—making it historical fiction for most tween readers!—it’s a timely, affecting #OwnVoices production that’s suitable for all libraries.

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