The Whole Story of Half a Girl
What greater praise than to be compared to Judy Blume!--"Each [Blume and Hiranandani] excels in charting the fluctuating discomfort zones of adolescent identity with affectionate humor."--Kirkus Reviews, Starred After her father loses his job, Sonia Nadhamuni, half Indian and half Jewish American, finds herself yanked out of private school and thrown into the unfamiliar world of public education. For the first time, Sonia's mixed heritage makes her classmates ask questions—questions Sonia doesn't always know how to answer—as she navigates between a group of popular girls who want her to try out for the cheerleading squad and other students who aren't part of the "in" crowd. At the same time that Sonia is trying to make new friends, she's dealing with what it means to have an out-of-work parent—it's hard for her family to adjust to their changed circumstances. And then, one day, Sonia's father goes missing. Now Sonia wonders if she ever really knew him. As she begins to look for answers, she must decide what really matters and who her true friends are—and whether her two halves, no matter how different, can make her a whole. From the Hardcover edition.
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Biryani is a rice dish from the country of India. In addition to brown rice, many spices such as butter, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, mint leaves, ginger, onions, and garlic add to the flavor. Do you enjoy tasting foods from other countries? (This annotation contains an image)
Which statement from the text lets you know Sonia doesn't like tofu?
Every story is organized in a pattern called plot. The plot is the series of events that make up the story. Think of the plot as a roller coaster. Strapping yourself into the seat is the first part of the plot, the exposition. Learn about what elements of the story are included in the exposition in the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
What does the conversation between Sonia and her father indicate about their relationship?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it’s so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. In this book, some words are unique to culture of the time and will not be defined in the dictionary. You will have to rely on the words and sentences around the unfamiliar word to figure out the meaning. Try it right now to look up the word "abrupt."
Sonia's parents are from different cultures: her mother is Jewish and her father is Indian. How can you tell that Sam's family is Jewish too?
Sam brainstorms possible ways to help Sonia stay at Community. This shows her character is encouraging. Learn more about character traits in the following video. (This annotation contains a video)
This paragraph describes a change in Sam's mood from excited and hopeful to
The point of view in a book refers to who is telling the story. The three types of point of view are described in the poster below. Which point of view do you think this story is told? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following dishes served at the Summer Ceremonies is from the Indian culture?
Sonia and her father have had an argument about changing schools. Conflict is what makes the plot move along. Learn about the types of conflict in this video. Which type of conflict do Sonia and her father have? (This annotation contains a video)
Sonia feels _____ about causing the argument between her mother and father.
A good reader uses clues to figure out things that are not exactly stated in the text. Learn more about how to make inferences in the following video. What can you infer about Sonia's father from the way he has acted all summer? (This annotation contains a video)
What can you infer about Sonia from the selected sentence?
The theme is the main message that the author wants the reader to understand. This message is repeatedly addressed as the plot progresses. In this book, the theme of "fitting in" is frequently reflected in the interactions that characters have with each other. In this scene, Sonia notices that the girls do not have lunch bags and quickly hides her's in her backpack. Pay attention to how this theme is developed throughout the rest of the book. View the following video to learn more about how to identify themes. (This annotation contains a video)
From Heather and Cindy's reaction to Sonia's last name, you can tell they are unfamiliar with people from India. Predict how being identified as a person with Indian heritage will affect her ability to fit in at the new school.
Good readers make connections to the text. Have you ever started at a new school? Did you feel nervous like Sonia? How did you handle it?
The selected words are examples of
The selected sentence relates to the theme of
Anther theme in this book is the "quest for ethnic identity." An ethnic group is a group of people who share the same culture, religion, or language. Sonia is trying to figure out which group she belongs to.
What does the simile in the selected sentence mean?
As a ride on a roller coaster begins, the story continues as you are slowly taken up to the highest point. In a story, this part of the plot is called the rising action. This is usually the longest part of the story when events occur to develop the plot. As you continue reading, notice events that move the story along.
What can you infer about Alisha from the selected sentence?
Every story fits into a category, or genre. As you view this video about realistic fiction, think about how this book fits the genre. (This annotation contains a video)
This description of the cemetery scene is a flashback. Writers use flashbacks to add information to the current events in a story. A flashback stops the current story and changes the scene to tell the previous events as if the character is reliving the actual event. The reader can gain understanding of a character’s motivation and provide background to a current conflict. Sometimes writers add flashbacks in the form of dreams and memories. What do you learn about Sonia in this flashback?
List details from this book that would cause it to be classified as realistic fiction.
Hummus can be eaten with raw vegetables or crackers. (This annotation contains an image)
Hummus is a dip made from chickpeas, which are shown in the first image below. The second image is of hummus. Have you ever eaten hummus? (This annotation contains an image)
Sonia's family is going through a lot of change. Can you relate to any of her experiences in the book so far? Why or why not?
Quiz Chapters 1-9
A "clique" is a group of people who share common interests like music, clothes, or opinions. They are not usually friendly to people outside their group. Sonia has an internal conflict trying to figure out the group she wants to belong to. Do cliques exist in your school?
Explain what Alisha means by the comment about Maplewood School in the selected sentence.
Why would a "nervous warmth" overcome Sonia when she hears Kate is calling her?
Writers use different structures to build the ideas of story. Chronological order is used to explain how things happen in time order. Some key words that help you recognize chronological order are first, after, later, next, and finally. Pay attention for evidence that proves this story is written in chronological order. (This annotation contains an image)
What makes cheerleading so important to Sonia that she wouldn't remind her mom about practicing with the girls?
Here is a video illustrating how to a cheerleader toe touch. (This annotation contains a video)
What makes Sonia feel like she fits in with Kate's friends?
A good reader can summarize main points in a story. How would you summarize Sonia's relationships with Alisha and Kate? View the following video to learn more about summarizing. (This annotation contains a video)
Authors use foreshadowing to give an advanced hint of what is to come later in the story. It may appear in the form of dialogue between characters, an event in the story which hints at a later event, or even the title may give clues about what is to come. Which sentence in the selected paragraph foreshadows a problem with the relationship between Sonia's parents?
A juvenile delinquent is a young person who continuously breaks the rules.
Compare how Kate performs at tryouts to the way Jess performs.
Here is a picture of the Taj Mahal. Can you see why it is Sonia's favorite? (This annotation contains an image)
Explain why Sonia struggles with answering Alisha's question of which culture she identifies with more.
Which type of figurative language is contained in the selected sentence?
Sonia's father suffers from depression. This may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. When this feeling does not go away, people may need medical help to treat their depression.
Becoming an alternate on the cheerleading squad increases Sonia's feeling of
Sonia refers to her father as a stranger because his behaviors and mood are so different since he lost his job. What details make her feel like she doesn't know him?
Here is a picture of saddle shoes. (This annotation contains an image)
Explain the changes in Sonia's emotions as Kate makes the announcement about the cheerleading squad.
Good readers make a picture in their mind of what is happening in the text. Can you picture how Kate's house is different from Sonia's?
Sometimes the dictionary will give several definitions of a word and you must use context clues to figure out which meaning fits the sentence. Which dictionary definition of the word "fever" is correct for this sentence?
Good readers focus on important ideas, ask questions as they read, and predict what will happen next. Sonia notices many differences between her family and Kate's family. Kate's family enjoys spending money on luxurious things and Sonia's family is more conservative. Predict how you think Sonia's parents will react to her new clothes.
Explain the change in Sonia's attitude about the food her family eats and her mother's appearance.
What can you infer about Sonia's father from the selected sentence?
A person who suffers from depression cannot overcome their feelings of sadness. Everyone feels sad at some time or another for various reasons, but can usually recover from that feeling fairly quickly. Someone who has depression as an illness needs a doctor to help them cope with deep sadness. When was the last time you were sad? Did you get over it fairly quickly?
Sonia reflects on Kate's family. Think a moment about your family. Is it more like Sonia's or Kate's?
Why doesn't Sonia feel Jewish?
The selected text evidence shows that Sonia really misses her friends at Community. Learn more about how to recognize text based evidence in the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the sentences below is NOT textual evidence that Sonia is envious of her old friends?
Sonia retreats to a place of comfort to her because she is upset about her visit to Community. Do you have a place you go when you are upset? Does it make you feel better?
Why does Sonia's mother change from worried to angry?
Sonia has found acceptance with Kate and Alisha at the new school, but others like Jess and Peter are not so accepting of her because of her differences. Have you ever seen someone treated differently because their beliefs or appearance is different?
Use text-based evidence to explain what Alisha means by the highlighted sentence. How does Sonia treat Alisha?
Which theme is expressed by Sonia's desire to attend Peter's party when she doesn't like him.
Sonia has avoided asking Kate to her house because of the problems with her family. How do you think Kate will react to Sonia's home and family?
Quiz Chapters 10-19
Good readers often pause and reflect during reading to reflect on the accuracy of previous predictions and clear up any confusion about the story. How does Kate react to Sonia's house? Do you think Sonia's nervous feeling will go away?
The conversation between Sonia and her mother is an example of
Sonia's need for acceptance by Kate increases her concern over the way her room looks. Kate's comment about the bedroom embarrasses Sonia. Have you ever worried, like Sonia, about being accepted by friends?
How has Sonia's mother's attitude toward Kate changed since she arrived for dinner?
How does the figurative language in the selected sentence affect the meaning of the text?
As the rising action of the plot continues, Kate and Sonia are learning more about the differences between their families. Do you think that will make them closer friends? What are some differences between your family and one of your close friend's family?
As Sonia fits in with Kate, she treats Alisha differently. What do you think will happen to their friendship? As you continue to read, pay attention to the way the characters treat each other in order to fit in.
You can infer that Kate is upset about Sonia's dress from the text evidence on this page. Besides the fact that they "barely talk the whole car ride," list the textual evidence that proves Kate is upset about Sonia's dress.
When Kate is with Jess and her other friends, she goes along with their comments and hurts Sonia's feelings. Have you ever acted differently depending on the group of friends you were with?
Explain how this scene would be different if Kate were telling it?
Which sentence from the novel supports the theme of acceptance?
Sonia is overwhelmed by the feelings she is having. Kate has betrayed her; Danny was mean to her, and she continues to question her identity. Do you think her mom will help her through this?
Sonia turns to her mother for comfort after her experience at the party. Her mother shows understanding and patience right when Sonia needs it. Who do you turn to when things are going badly in your life?
Why do you think Sonia describes the scene in her closet the way she does?
What does Grandpa do to entertain the girls?
Another theme in the book is family relationships. They have been having problems, but now Sonia's family is pulling together to support each other during this time of crisis.
Why does Sonia lie to Kate about her dad's illness?
Sonia calls Sam and tells her everything that is going on because she trusts her with the truth. Sam supports her by listening and not judging her. Do you have a friend who is a trustworthy as Sam?
The author adds the detail about Dad getting money at the airport to increase suspense in the book. Suspense is when you want to know what happened to the character so you keep reading. What do you think happened to Sonia's dad?
Authors work hard to choose just the right word to give the reader a clear understanding of exactly what they mean. In this sentence, a stiff back and straight arms indicates that Sonia has not forgiven Kate. If the author had used words like soft, warm, and comforting, you would have inferred Sonia felt better about Kate's friendship.
Read the following poem called "Fake."Which character, Sonia or Kate, do you think relates most to the speaker of the poem? Explain your choice with evidence from the text. I don't know why I act like this She is not me. I don't gossip about others, Spread rumors I don't know who started, Laugh hard at that person Who tripped and fell flat In the corridor today. But I do it, I don't know why... Do I want to fit in? No, I am already in. Do I want to rebel? I don't know, I'd rather yell And protest against Everything from lunch To crummy homework. This is a mask I wear upon my face So I don't feel out of place. A driving force within me Talks to me, leads me Upon this thorny path Which pricks my heart And eats my soul. I shouldn't listen, but I do And it's all because of you.
From the highlighted paragraph, you can infer that Sonia feels
Sonia's mother explains how she identifies with Sonia's need to get away for a while. This makes Sonia understand that her feelings are not unusual in her situation.
Food or objects can be described as kosher if they follow the rules of the Old Testament in the Bible.
How does Grandma define Sonia's identity?
The top of the roller coaster is the point where you can’t go up any higher. In a plot, this is the climax. As this point, the character knows she must make a major decision to resolve the conflict. The action then starts to move in a different direction. Sonia has decided her friendship with Alisha is genuine and she will be able to fit in well with her. Pay attention to other decisions and actions made by Sonia in the rest of the book.
Sonia's character can be described as _____ when she defends Alisha in this scene.
After the roller coaster hits the highest point, it quickly goes downhill toward the end of the ride. In a plot, this is the falling action. The conflicts are resolving and any loose ends are tied up. Dad has been found and he will get the help he needs to cope with his depression.
What does Alisha do that makes Sonia happy?
View the clip below from Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. Pay attention to the idea of acceptance, and then answer the next question. (This annotation contains a video)
How does the scene at the lunch table compare to the scene from the movie?
What does Sonia finally realize about Kate?
March Chagall was a Russian-French artist in the early 1900s. Many of his paintings reflected his childhood memories. (This annotation contains an image)
Natasha feels ____ about visiting Dad in the hospital, but Sonia feels ______.
The partition of India was the period in the 1940s when India was divided into Pakistan and India. There was a lot of violence because of disputes over boundaries.
Quiz Chapters 20-29
Once the roller coaster ride is over, the cart pulls back into the station. In a plot, this is the resolution. The main character may have changed over the course of the story, any conflicts are completely solved, and the story ends. Sonia has a more confident feeling of who she is and her family is together.