It dawns on me, clear as a summer sky, how wrapping a turban, speaking the language of your parents’ parents’ parents, and celebrating the same holidays that everyone before you celebrated are all like little thank-yous to those who survived. Those seemingly small things are a long-held memory whispered from the lips of the past into the ear of the future.
I really liked Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger. It’s the story of Samar, a girl who has to confront her Indian heritage five days after the September 11th attacks when her turbaned, Sikh uncle shows up on her doorstep.
What I Liked
– I loved how complicated the relationships are in this book–especially the relationships Samar’s mom has with her brother and parents. The level of depth reminded me a lot of Gilmore Girls and how Rory relates to her grandparents, but then Lorelai has this whole other level of complex views on the way she was raised and how she communicates with her parents. That is some good stuff right there.
– The boy stuff was handled well. I am so glad this story did not become about the boy, but that the boy is part of Samar’s life and is another relationship she’s trying to navigate. (Have I mentioned how much I hate when stories of this sort become about the boy? UGH. Pet peeve. Anyway, this book does not fall into that trap, so let’s move on.)
– Samar’s relationship with Molly is also really well-handled. Their brief falling out felt true to life as did their subsequent making up. I love how much Samar is a part of Molly’s family, and the ease and familiarity they have with one another.
– Uncle Sandeep = fantastic.
– I love how well the title relates to the story.
What I Didn’t Like
– My only complaint, really, is that there wasn’t enough of that daughter-parent-grandparent conflict. I just wanted so much more of that, but I guess that’s why there are Gilmore Girls repeats/DVDs.
– I felt this book could have been longer. Doing so may have fleshed out some of the other characters. At the same time, I think Meminger did everything she needed to do with this story, so maybe I just wanted more to read.
In conclusion: I really liked this book. Meminger does a great job exploring issues of identity and family and what happens when you don’t know your family, but would like to get to know them. She also touches on the idea that there are no perfect families, which is great since Samar idealizes the extended family. Good stuff.
Support Your Local Library: 35; YA Reading Challenge: 31; POC Reading Challenge: 20
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