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Review: Shine Coconut Moon (Meminger)

Title: Shine, Coconut Moon
Author: Neesha Meminger
Genre: YA
Pages: 253
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.


Athira said...

This book sounds amazing! I have to add this! Good review!

Christina T said...

Great review! My library has this so I'll have to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Hi Helen - I've been following your read-a-thon with breathless interest. I haven't had time to read as I'm up against a revision deadline. I read SHINE, COCONUT MOON before it came out and gave the wonderful book an endorsement/blurb. I'll let Neesha know about your review. Take care, Anjali

Helen's Book Blog said...

Aths and Christina--The more I think about this one the more I like it. Definitely check it out!

Anjali--So glad you're able to get the posts now. Good luck with your revisiions. I noticed your blurb on the back of the book when I was about half way through and I was so excited!

Stephanie said...

I loved this novel too. I thought the different cultural and historical issues it raised made it very rich.