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Shine, Coconut Moon Hardcover – March 10, 2009
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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.
Top customer reviews
Meminger's teenage characters have clear, authentic voices. The boys are all pretty immature and the girls think they're more mature than they really are. I really appreciated her attention to such small details like including a model of color as one Sammy and her white best friend, Molly admire. Also, their school seems to be a real microcosm in terms of the socioeconomic and multicultural/multi-ethnic backgrounds represented. The adults are also written with relevancy and clarity. Especially Sammy's mother, Sharanjit, and her uncle, Sandeep. In spite of their differing ideas and the many years since their separation, the love between this brother and sister is evident.
One of my favorite moments is when Sammy, in spite of her mother's adverse opinion of "religion", has a meaningful experience at a local gurdwara (Sikh temple). This really speaks volumes to the difference between religion and spirituality and how the latter is often overshadowed by the former.
Shine Coconut Moon is a great story that I believe all teens could identify with and those a bit older who were teens during the events of 9/11. This novel exposes the realities of identity becoming more prevalent for many who were at once Americans then suddenly found themselves under unfair scrutiny. Also, it should speak to all ages in general on knowing and treasuring family and heritage.
Life seems okay, but then Uncle Sandeep, whom Sam hasn't seen since she was kid, begins visiting them to reconcile with her mother. He wears a turban. People stare at him. The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center occur close to their New Jersey town. Uncle Sandeep is a target of bigots because of his dark skin and turban. Sam is called a coconut at school, someone who's brown on the outside and white on the inside. Sam begins questioning who she is, what does being a Sikh mean, why doesn't she know a word of Punjabi? She also wants to meet her grandparents.
Shine, Coconut Moon is a brilliant, multicultural, young adult novel. Samar's discomfort with her sheltering mother and hateful bigots comes through with sharp realism. I enjoyed reading about Samar: all the thoughts and questions she had about herself and the people surrounding her.
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.