Book Review: Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca Red, White, and Whole (9780063047426): LaRocca, Rajani: Books

Title: Red, White, and Whole

Author: Rajani LaRocca

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction/Books in Verse

Number of Pages: 224

Rating: C+

Recommended?: No

This might just be a matter of a book not being to my taste, because Red, White, and Whole wasn’t bad by any means. It just wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before. The novel is written in verse and set in the 80’s, telling the story of a girl named Reha and her cultural conflicts with her parents. Reha feels caught between India and the United States, and even though her mother and father love her she doesn’t feel like they understand what it’s like to want to be ‘normal’ among her American peers. Then her mom is diagnosed with leukemia and Reha resolves to be the perfect daughter, as if flawlessness will ensure her mother’s full recovery.

The cultural themes felt very meh to me. I’ve seen so many stories about young people caught between cultures and none of the characters felt all that memorable to me. It failed to engage me emotionally, probably because I didn’t care about the characters. The protagonist’s voice didn’t sound like a kid to me. I know there has to be some suspension of disbelief when it comes to child narrators but Reha’s voice just didn’t feel authentic. I didn’t think that LaRocca was a bad writer and I might even try reading her next book to see if I like it better than this one. Red, White, and Whole is a solid read, but nothing about it particularly impressed me.

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