Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Whole Story of Half a Girl

Penguin Random House 2013. 218 pages
First published: 2012
ISBN: 9780375871672 (paperback)
9780385741286 (hardcover)
9780375984419 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, conflict, point of view

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

When her father loses his job, Sonia Nadhamuni has to transfer from her private alternative school to a public school. Suddenly, her clothes seem too funky, her name too strange. Everything is different, from the materialistic and social-status values of the students to the deep-seated racial separation. Sonia, whose father and mother are Indian and Jewish respectively, doesn’t know quite where she fits in, at home or at school: “For everything that reminds me of who I am, there’s always something reminding me of who I’m not.” Sonia is even torn about which group she wants to hang out with—Kate, who’s bubbly and popular, or Alisha, a quiet, attentive girl who gets bused in from hardscrabble Bridgeport. Meanwhile, Sonia’s home life is increasingly difficult. She and her little sister learn that her father lost his job because of a major depressive episode. She scarcely recognizes him anymore—then he disappears suddenly.

The first-person narrative rings true, both the magnitude of Sonia’s attempts to define her identity and the external, social events. The social crucible of middle school is difficult even for thoughtful, well-surrounded children. “Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one like me,” Sonia confides to her father when she visits him in a psychiatric hospital. Sonia’s perspective, as she moves toward feeling whole, is genuine and relatable.

  •  

    The story is told from the point of view of Sonia Nadhamuni, a girl dealing with changes in her family life, her friendships and herself. Notice the way she narrates the story, and keep her situation in mind during reading.

  •  In pairs, discuss the changes in Sonia’s life. How does she describe them? Is her point of view a reliable one? Why or why not? Use examples from the text when presenting ideas.
  •  

    Choose a favourite scene from the book and rewrite it from the point of view of a different character. How would Sonia’s mother, father, sister or friends describe the event? Share your scene with other readers and discuss how point of view changes the reading experience.

  •  

    Discuss your experience of changing schools. What are the advantages and disadvantages?

  •  Describe Sonia. Why do you think she is struggling with her identity?
  •  

    Choose a favourite scene from the book and rewrite it from the point of view of a different character. How would Sonia’s mother, father, sister or friends describe the event?

  • To cooperate with others
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal Development