Rani Patel in Full Effect

Sixteen-year-old Rani Patel is always the odd one out: she's the only Gujarati Indian girl on the tiny Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, where she moved when she was 12, and the only girl she knows who writes rap. After her abusive father leaves Rani and her mother alone to run the family general store and café, hip-hop is her only solace. When her alter ego, MC Sutra, is invited to audition for an underground hip-hop crew, Rani finally has something to look forward to--especially when another MC, Mark, shows interest in more than her rhymes. But Mark is older, with struggles of his own. When they become involved, memories of her father's abuse overwhelm her, causing an emotional upheaval that even Rani doesn't understand. Rani's "hard work at staying sober from Mark-the-love-drug" will be familiar to older teens.

Readers will find a kindred spirit in Rani through Sonia Patel's skillful crafting of her internal battle. Patel doesn't turn away from the difficult issues Rani is facing, especially the "emotional turmoil" that results from incest. Throughout Rani Patel in Full Effect, Patel--a child and adolescent psychiatrist--is respectful of what abused teens survive without sugarcoating. Teens recovering from sexual trauma will be inspired by a heroine who gathers her inner strength despite setbacks; others will gain insight into how trauma makes people act unexpectedly. And all readers will appreciate the authentic detail and development of Rani's Gujarati-Hawaiian-hip-hop world of 1991. Rani's deeply felt but uneven rhymes, combined with the book's effortless inclusion of Gujarati and Hawaiian pidgin, create a distinct adolescent voice. --Stephanie Anderson, assistant director for public services, Darien Library (Conn.)

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