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Shine, Coconut Moon Hardcover – March 10, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Samar (aka Sam) considers herself just a regular teenage girl, even though she is Indian American. Her mother has kept her away from her old-fashioned, very strict family, and she never has identified with her Indian heritage. None of this has ever bothered her, aside from the fact that she longs for a large family like her best friend’s instead of just herself and her mom. One day, shortly after 9/11, a man wearing a turban shows up on her doorstep. He is her estranged uncle, and through him, Sam begins to realize how important being Indian American is to her identity. This novel is especially poignant as our country continues to deal with prejudice against Southeast Asians and individuals from the Middle East. Readers will be drawn in to Sam’s story and her struggles to make sense of and combine her two cultures. This admirably explores identity and difference through the voice of a girl who thinks she is a typical teenager. Grades 7-10. --Melanie Koss


"An important book for young people about coming to terms with identity, prejudice, and family in a post-9/11 world. A touching portrait of a strong-willed daughter and her rebellious mother." -- Marina Budhos, author of Ask Me No Questions and Tell Us We're Home

"Everyone -- teens and adults alike -- should read this wise, warm story of family, friendship, tolerance, and finding out who you really are." -- Anjali Banerjee, author of Maya Running and Looking for Bapu

"Neesha Meminger writes with honesty, a big heart, and bold humor. I laughed, cried, learned, and related." -- Tanuja Desai Hidier, author of Born Confused

"I want to give this novel to every teen on the hunt for the unvarnished truth about her own story." -- Mitali Perkins, author of Secret Keeper --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416954953
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416954958
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,011,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Samar, known as Sam to most everyone around her, is a seventeen-year-old Indian-American. Except that aside from her name and her complexion, Sam isn't really Indian--she's completely assimilated; and that's how her mother wants her to be. Sam has never known any members of her family other than her mom until soon after September 11th a turban-wearing man shows up at her doorstep. The man turns out to be her mother's younger brother--the uncle that she's never known. The recent events have led Uncle Sandeep to reach out to Sam and her mom and it turns out that his sudden appearance jumpstarts a wave of curiosity in Sam. She immediately starts to question everything she's known about her family--are her mother's parents really as bad as she claims? What's it like to be a Sikh? An Indian? And whatever happened to her father? Learning about herself and her history is new territory for Sam, and for those closest to her. Her best friend Molly doesn't seem to get it; her mother is steadfastly against it; and her sweet boyfriend Mike is not acting like the guy she's always known.

I really liked this. Sam is an ordinary teenager having to face identity questions and issues that most teenagers have to face; but because she has known nothing of her culture, it is definitely more intense for her. Trying to figure out who we are is difficult at any time, but especially for a seventeen-year-old girl whose main problem before 9/11 was when she was going to go all the way with her boyfriend. Well-written in that it's a fast read, but leaves the reader with many questions about her own identity. Good book.
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Format: Hardcover
I found SHINE, COCONUT MOON, to be a timely, relevant work which while targeted to teenagers, will definitely appeal to anyone confronting issues of self-identity, cultural identity and/or social marginalization. The author, exploring issues of identity and social otherness, in a post 9/11 context, manages to aptly present these sensitive hot-bed issues in a noteworthy manner and most importantly, from varying character perspectives. What I find most essential about this book is that it does a really good job of subtly encouraging the reader to examine / rethink one's preconceived notions about difference. This book, if taught in schools, could be a great teaching tool with regard to consciousness-raising. I loved it, for me, it was a positive and cathartic reading experience - I wholly recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
The cover of SHINE, COCONUT MOON should be enough to draw readers to the contents of Ms. Meminger's story. But if the cover doesn't pull you in, then the story should capture your attention.

Samar has always considered herself American. She had a few incidents when she was younger of being treated as an outsider, but when Molly befriended her, Sam was accepted without any problems.

It isn't until after September 11, 2001, that life changes for Sam. A strange man in a turban shows up at her door claiming to be her long lost uncle - Uncle Sandeep. Her mom had severed all ties to her family, so the man on their porch is a stranger to Sam. Sam's curiosity is piqued and she wants Sandeep to be a part of her life.

But in the days post-9/11, anyone that even remotely looks like a terrorist is instantly regarded with suspicion, and Uncle Sandeep in his turban stands out in town. By association, people start looking at Sam differently. Sam knows nothing of her Indian heritage, and seeks out other girls like her at school for guidance.

Sam begs her uncle to take her to her maternal grandparents. But when her grandparents realize that Sam's mother knows nothing of the trip, they cut the visit short. They insist they want to get to know Sam, but will only do so with Sharan's blessing.

The novel shares the struggles of Samar coming to terms with who she is in a new post-9/11 society. Having been denied her heritage, she's hungry for knowledge of who she is and what her mother is running away from. Samar wants to fit in without controversy, but she also wants to be true to herself.

SHINE, COCONUT MOON will make you angry with the way innocent people were put under scrutiny in the days following September 11, 2001, but it will also make you think about the way you consider those who are different from you.

Reviewed by: Jaglvr
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Format: Hardcover
Samar, or Sam as she calls herself, is a coconut. That is, someone who's brown on the outside but white on the inside. Her mother only helps contribute to Sam's disconnection to her heritage. She's abandoned her parents and their old-fashioned lifestyle and hasn't even allowed Sam to meet her grandparents.

But it's not like Sam cares. She has her own friends, a cute boyfriend and a modern life to keep up with. Then everything changes with the tragedy of 9/11.

Because of 9/11, atrocious acts of violence were committed against those who appeared different. In the novel, these acts begin to nudge Sam into discovering her heritage.

And then a man in a turban shows up, a man that Sam has never met before. It turns out that he's her mother's brother. Her uncle. And he's there to teach her about her Sikh heritage.

Becuase of her mother's attitude towards her parents and their religion, Sam is forced to seek answers in secret. Her uncle takes her to visit a gurdwara, or a Sikh temple. He reconciles her with her grandparents. As violence affects her more personally, with teenage boys attacking her uncle and the gurdwara being set on fire, Sam begins to question her existence as a "coconut." And all the while, Sam has to connect the person she was with the person she is becoming. She has to deal with the evolving relationships of her friends and her boyfriend and see who really loves her for who she is.

My sister and I both face the opposite problem that Sam did. Our parents adore "our" culture and are constantly pushing us into it. It was refreshing to read about Sam's quest to find her culture, rather than "abandoning our culture and becoming white" as our parents eloquently claim. (RR1: Yes, they are indeed a wee bit unstable.
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