Thursday, March 4, 2010
A Conversation with Neesha Meminger
Shine, Coconut Moon is a thoughtful, well-written book about identity and self-discovery as well as cultural identity. It does a great job of subtly encouraging the reader to examine and/or rethink their preconceived notions about difference.
This is the summary from the book cover: Seventeen-year-old Samar -- a.k.a. 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.
Shine, Coconut Moon is such a great book. I read it for the interview, but really enjoyed the story and the characters. Sam is such a universal, teen character. She goes through a lot of self-discovery and personal growth, as well as bonding with her family and learning about her culture. At the same time, she goes through the usual teen stuff: school, fighting with friends, and dealing with her boyfriend. Neesha does a great job of combining both sides of Sam's life into a great story. I wish that more people knew about it.
If you would like to listen to the interview, it can be found at the Mount Kisco Library Podcast on Podomatic.com.