Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca

February 1, 2022 (by Leah)


Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca is a middle grade novel written in verse and was named a Newbery Honor Book earlier this year. Reja is a young Indian American girl struggling to fit in. She goes back and forth between her ‘school world’, where she is the only Indian in a sea of white faces and her home life trying to live up to her strict parents’ expectations. She loves her family’s foods and traditions but also resents how they make her different in her classmates eyes. Reja’s life is shattered when her mother is diagnosed with cancer. Why had she been so worried about silly things and not noticed her mom’s illness? She will save her mother and become the perfect daughter. LaRocca gives Reja a strong voice and the writing is beautiful. It is amazing that with so few words, we feel everything Reja feels. I read this book with my 5th grade son and we both loved it. An important book for building empathy and understanding how it feels to be different, judged or mocked for things beyond your control. Can’t wait to share this book!