Rani Patel in Full Effect

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Rani Patel in Full Effect Book Poster Image
Powerful coming-of-age tale deals with abuse, addiction.

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Kids say

age 11+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about sexual abuse, addiction, and recovery. They'll also learn about Hawaiian and Gujarati culture. The Hawaiian, Hawaiian pidgin, and Gujarati phrases characters use are defined in the glossary. There are also frequent references to early '90s rap artists such as Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Run DMC, and more.

Positive Messages

Never give up. Healing is possible, but it may take time. Strive to be your own queen bee. Don't let anyone else define you or determine your self-worth. Some of Rani's empowering lines include "feel free to disagree and get a degree" and "stand up to persecution and make your contribution." Her story will help teens understand the importance of the consent. She raps, "Cuz boys, if you brought up correct, then ladies get the foremost respect."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both Rani and her mom initially lack self-confidence, but by the end of the book they are strong, independent survivors of abuse who help each other heal. Despite all the obstacles thrown their way, the Patel women never give up. Their story provides hope to those who many be in similar situations. Her mother becomes her protector and helps Rani leave an unhealthy relationship. Rani's grandfather encourages her to get an education and break cultural norms. Omar and Pono are great friends to Rani, even though she doesn't always follow their advice.  

Violence

Incest and rape are large parts of Rani's story but aren't told in graphic detail. Her father's sexual abuse is described through flashbacks, and Rani repeatedly tells Mark to stop before everything fades to black. She's sexually harassed twice by the same customer who puts his hand down her shirt and tries to get her to kiss him. Rani remembers the story of one of her family members who was burned alive in her home for disobeying her husband. Talk of domestic violence among other couples on the island. One woman is put into the hospital after her boyfriend beat her up. Physical fights between high school girls include punching, choking, wrestling, etc.

Sex

Rani's father has an affair and gets his girlfriend pregnant. Rani often thinks about her crushes. She makes out with her boyfriend who's much older than she is and thinks about losing her virginity to him.

Language

Frequent uses of "ass," "hell," "bitch," "f--k," "bastard," "s--t," "dyke," "slut," "skank," and more. Characters use several Hawaiian, Hawaiian pidgin, and Gujurati phrases that are defined in the glossary at the back of the book.

Consumerism

Several references to early '90s hip-hop/rap music and artists such as Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Salt N Pepa, Marky Mark, Run DMC, and more. Brands include Nike, Air Jordan, Adidas, Puma, and more. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Substance abuse and addiction is a large part of the story. Several adults drink beer, tequila, and champagne, smoke cigarettes, and do drugs including marijuana, crystal meth, cocaine, heroin, Zoloft, Xanax, and more, often with teens present. 

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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Teen, 16 years old Written bymarrrrSs March 15, 2018

great novel for a car ride!

This novel is a story of a young women who has lived in a society of forced gender roles and of painstaking memories. It's a read that will make your feel... Continue reading

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.

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