Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Conversation with Neesha Meminger

Way back in November, Deirdre and I got the opportunity to speak with 2009 debut author Neesha Meminger about her book Shine, Coconut Moon.  Some of the topics we talked about were autobiographical writing and fiction, the inspiration for Shine, Coconut Moon and how Neesh invents her characters.  Neesha was a lot of fun to speak with.  The chat was very informative and fun.  She had some great advice about writing and being creative in general.

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 


  1. I will definitely listen to the interview, and this book sounds amazing! :)

  2. My library has this book so I am planning to read it. I have a feeling I will love it.

    By the way, I wanted to give you this blog award.

  3. Neesha seems pretty awesome. I read her blog regularly, and well, it's really cool to see a more chromatic YA section. I can't wait to pick up and read Shine Coconut Moon!

  4. April - yes it is really nice to see a more chromatic YA section (I like how you phrased that) another author that brings more color to YA is Mitali Perkins. Her upcoming book, Bamboo People, is a wonderful book set in Burma. It comes out in July, but is definitely worth the wait.

  5. Great review! I also really enjoyed this one. I'm heading over to the interview right now :)


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The Serpentine Library is an award free zone. I appreciate that you may want to pass along an award and I thank you for that. Blogging is about sharing a love for reading and books and I would like to make that this blog's first priority.


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