The cover of SHINE, COCONUT MOON should be enough to draw readers to the contents of Ms. Meminger's story. But if the cover doesn't pull you in, then the story should capture your attention.
Samar has always considered herself American. She had a few incidents when she was younger of being treated as an outsider, but when Molly befriended her, Sam was accepted without any problems.
It isn't until after September 11, 2001, that life changes for Sam. A strange man in a turban shows up at her door claiming to be her long lost uncle - Uncle Sandeep. Her mom had severed all ties to her family, so the man on their porch is a stranger to Sam. Sam's curiosity is piqued and she wants Sandeep to be a part of her life.
But in the days post-9/11, anyone that even remotely looks like a terrorist is instantly regarded with suspicion, and Uncle Sandeep in his turban stands out in town. By association, people start looking at Sam differently. Sam knows nothing of her Indian heritage, and seeks out other girls like her at school for guidance.
Sam begs her uncle to take her to her maternal grandparents. But when her grandparents realize that Sam's mother knows nothing of the trip, they cut the visit short. They insist they want to get to know Sam, but will only do so with Sharan's blessing.
The novel shares the struggles of Samar coming to terms with who she is in a new post-9/11 society. Having been denied her heritage, she's hungry for knowledge of who she is and what her mother is running away from. Samar wants to fit in without controversy, but she also wants to be true to herself.
SHINE, COCONUT MOON will make you angry with the way innocent people were put under scrutiny in the days following September 11, 2001, but it will also make you think about the way you consider those who are different from you.
Reviewed by: Jaglvr