A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sonia Patel's Rani Patel in Full Effect is about a 16-year-old Indian-American girl who lives on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i with her parents during the early '90s. A big fan of hip hop, Rani raps to escape her dysfunctional family, break sexist cultural traditions, and eventually find her voice and identity. Although this story can help teens can learn the importance of determining their own self-worth and the power of perseverance, parents should be aware that the book tackles mature topics including sexual abuse and addiction. Incest, rape, and domestic violence are large parts of Rani's story but aren't described in graphic detail. Several characters drink beer, tequila, and champagne as well as use drugs, including marijuana, crystal meth, heroin, and cocaine. Strong language includes frequent uses of "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "hell," "bitch," "bastard," insults "slut" and "skank," and more. The Hawaiian, Hawaiian pidgin, and Gujarati phrases that characters use are defined in the glossary at the end of the book.
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What's the story?
RANI PATEL IN FULL EFFECT tells the story of 16-year-old Rani who lives on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i with her Indian immigrant parents. Not only does she feel like an outsider at school, but her relationship at home is also strained. Her parents' arranged marriage is falling apart and Rani is expected to pick up the pieces, even though her mom barely talks to her and her dad sexually abuses her. When Rani sees her dad with another woman, she shaves her hair off like an Indian widow and writes a powerful slam poem detailing her pain, anger, and frustration. Her drastic change catches the attention of Mark, the hot older customer who often visits her family’s store, and she jumps headfirst into a relationship with him despite the warnings from her friends. But her introduction to 4eva FlowIn', an underground hip-hop crew, and some questionable decisions, give Rani and her mom the push they need to break free from the people and situations that cause them pain.
Is it any good?
Sonia Patel’s emotional and powerful coming-of-age novel tastefully tackles the trauma associated with abuse and addiction as well as the road to recovery. With a blend of diverse languages and cultures, numerous early ‘90s rap references, and Rani’s poetic lyrics, Rani Patel in Full Effect creates a vivid depiction of life on the island. As a trained psychologist, Patel understands the frustration readers may feel with Rani’s decisions and mistakes, but she acknowledges that it’s realistic for survivors of abuse.
Although Rani initially lacks self-confidence and has a skewed sense of self-worth, her alter ego MC Sutra is full of life and positive energy. Most teens will never experience anything like Rani’s story, but as she “strive[s] to be [her] own queen bee” and slowly learns she “don’t need your praise to phase how [she] self-appraise,” teens will understand that Rani’s story is one of perseverance and empowerment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the heavy theme of Rani Patel in Full Effect. Is it important for kids -- even those who have never had to deal with an abusive home life -- to read Rani's story? Why or why not? How does the book deal with sex, substance abuse, and violence? How do these issues affect the characters?
Do you think music helps people deal with their problems? How do you cope with issues? Who can you turn to or what help is out there?
Can you think of any other books or movies that deal with sexual abuse? How might a novel like this be helpful? Be sure to also check out Books to Help Teens Understand the Importance of Consent.
- Author: Sonia Patel
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs, Music and Sing-Along
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
- Publication date: October 11, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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