Shine, Coconut Moon
Author: Neesha Meminger
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Challenges: YA (#19), South Asian Authors (#3), POC (#19), TBR (#10), Read-a-Thon (#3)
FTC Disclosure: I bought this one with my own money and will probably donate it to my school library
Summary (from the inside flap): Seventeen year old Samar--aka Sam--has never known much about her Indian heritage. Her mom has deliberately kept Sam away from her old-fashioned family. It's never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a really cute but demanding boyfriend. But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam's house and he turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. Sam isn't sure what to do, until a girl at school calls her a coconut--brown on the outside, white on the inside. That decides it: Why shouldn't Sam get to know her family? What is her mom so afraid of? Then some boys attack her uncle, shouting "Go back home, Osama!" and Sam realizes she could be in danger--and also discovers how dangerous ignorance can be. Sam will need all her smarts and savvy to try to bridge two worlds and make them both her own.
Review: I liked this book from page 1. Something about the tone and the writing just clicked for me. And, 9/11, sikhs, and long lost family? What more could a reader ask for? And the book didn't disappoint! I liked the characters, the writing, and the plot.
I enjoy books that have a great story but that also teach me something and this book did just that. I learned about Sikhism and more what it was like to be targeted after 9/11. I know a little bit about that since my ex-husband is Arab, but it was interesting to read about it from another person's perspective.
The author did a really good job at slowly having the characters figure out what is important to them, allowing them to decide if they are "American" or "Indian" or "South Asian" and which parts of each culture they wanted to keep, to learn about, and to own. This is a book about culture, family, what's right and wrong, bullying, and most of all, acceptance of oneself and one's family.