Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Enchanting Review: Shine Coconut Moon

YA Contemporary
McElderry Books
ISBN # 978-1-4169-5495-8
253 pages
Hardcover—Available Now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Seventeen-year-old Samar--Sammy doesn’t know much about her Indian heritage. Her mother refuses to have anything to do with her parents or anything that deals with her past, which includes Sammy’s father. But that all changes after 9/11. Some man with a turban shows up on Sammy’s porch, claiming to be her uncle. He wants the family to get back together and to teach Sammy about her Sikh heritage. Sammy doesn’t know what to do. Her mother is against this. Then a girl at school calls Sammy a coconut, brown on the outside and white inside. Sammy wants to know the truth of who she is and more about her Sikh background. Then some guys from school do something to her uncle’s car, while shouting for him to go home. Sammy realizes that things have changed and how scary it can be. It’s up to her to try to reconcile both of her worlds.

This tale really hit a cord for me. My own brother-in-law is Muslim and came over to our country right before 9/11. The stories of being singled out because he shared the same faith of the terrorists are very similar to the experiences that Sammy witnesses happening with her uncle. In this case, her uncle is ridiculed for wearing a turban. Though he’s not Muslim, those in Sammy’s town assume he is based on his appearance. At first hateful words are thrown at her uncle that slowly turns into personal attacks. Meminger does an excellent job of showing the inner turmoil and conflict that goes through Sammy, especially when the same hateful things are directed at her.

The scenes where Sammy confronts her mother about the denial of their culture are very powerful. Through this all Sammy starts asking some serious questions. Who exactly is American? When do you need to stand up to injustices? These are some tough questions and ones that I know will resonate with other teens, especially those who find themselves in Sammy’s situation. Meminger does a great job of showing that ignorance is dangerous. This is an important tale for teens that are struggling with their identity amidst prejudice in troubling times. It’s also a tale about the importance of family and being true to yourself.

This is Neesha Meminger’s first novel. Find out more at her website:

May 2009

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