Book Review: Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca – A Gorgeous Novel about Mother-Daughter Relationships and Immigration Stories that Will Break Your Heart


Reha feels torn between two worlds: school, where she’s the only Indian American student, and home, with her family’s traditions and holidays. But Reha’s parents don’t understand why she’s conflicted—they only notice when Reha doesn’t meet their strict expectations. Reha feels disconnected from her mother, or Amma, although their names are linked—Reha means “star” and Punam means “moon”—but they are a universe apart.

Then Reha finds out that her Amma is sick. Really sick.

Reha, who dreams of becoming a doctor even though she can’t stomach the sight of blood, is determined to make her Amma well again. She’ll be the perfect daughter, if it means saving her Amma’s life.

Cuddle's review:

I don’t know what it is about this time of year that makes me more drawn to reading novels in verse. Perhaps it’s the contemplative and expressive autumn feels, or the release of Red (Taylor’s version), but whatever it is, I am so glad that it led me to pick up Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca. It is a middle grade novel in verse, and features our protagonist, Reha, who is an Indian-American girl who is a second generation immigrant living in the Midwest of the USA. When the book opens, her main emotional conflict is that she is torn between the community she has at school, where she sometimes feels “too Indian”, being one of the only Indian-American students, and home, where she sometimes feels “too American”. The author commented that this book draws directly on her personal experience as a teen growing up in the 1980s. 

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Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Jasmine Warga, Author of The Shape of Thunder – On Challenging Narratives, Joy as Resistance, and Honesty as Empowerment

Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Our Friend is Here: Asian and Pasifika Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond during the month of May, where Asian and Pasifika authors are invited to celebrate being Asian and Pasifika work and literature! Find the introduction post for Asian and Pasifika Heritage Month here.

If you have ever asked me for a middle-grade or novel-in-verse book recommendation, then I would have recommended to you Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga. To this day, Other Words For Home remains to be one of my favourite books of all time – Jasmine’s beautiful words burrow a way into your heart, making a home there, and will stay and carry you. When I was planning Asian Pasifika Heritage Month, Jasmine was among the people that I absolutely had to invite. And I am so excited to be here today, having Jasmine visit the Pond.

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Book Recommendations – 11 Stories in Verse (That Will Shatter Your Soul)

Book Recommendations: 11 Stories in Verse that will shatter your soul. Varian stares out a window, with a wistful look, with flowers transforming into birds.

In case you’re new to the Pond’s book recommendation posts, the recommendation posts are brought to you by Varian, the Pond’s very own Toadshifter who is knowledgeable in all kinds of magic! One of Varian’s ambitions is to get better at sewing, hence why whenever Varian has come up with their latest costume, they will always recommend a few books that inspired them!

Stories in verse have a special place in my heart. I read a lot of books that move me, but stories in verse have a way of instilling that wondrous feeling of awe, that words can make me feel things so immense and deep. Almost always, the stories in verse that I have read find ways to captivate me. You don’t have to be a poetry lover to appreciate stories in verse (take it from me)! Therefore, I am so excited to be recommending to you all 8 stories in verse, as well as share 3 upcoming stories in verse that you all need to add to your to-read lists!

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