Shine Coconut MoonTitle: Shine Coconut Moon
Author: Neesha Meminger
ISBN: 9781416954958
Pages: 253 pages
Publisher/Date: Margaret K. McElderry Books, c2009.

There is a man wearing a turban ringing our doorbell. I walk slowly up the driveway and stop a safe, short distance from him as he rings again.
“Yes?” I as, cautiously. Is this guy a salesman? Lost, asking for directions? Strange, weirdo lunatic? We’re not expecting anyone, as far as I know, and all of Mom’s clients use the separate entrance to her basement office.
The man jerks around. “Samar . . . ?” he says, hi eyes widening. He steps toward me.
Okay, strange, weirdo lunatic–who knows my name! (1)

The weirdo lunatic who appears at seventeen-year-old Samar Ahluwahlia’s door step turns out to be her uncle. Her mom fled her family after her divorce from Samar’s father, but after 9/11, her Uncle Sandeep wants to reunite with the family. His appearance causes tension however between Samar and her mother, who does not want Samar to learn about her heritage or past. Samar is also encountering racism and prejudice from classmates, even after she has worked so hard to be accepted by them and hide her heritage. But is Samar really a coconut “brown on the outside, white on the inside”? Or is she one of the most resiliant plants on earth? Neesha Meminger presents one girl’s struggle to accept who she is along with everyone else in Shine Coconut Moon.

I found myself comparing this story with Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah and liking this one more. Samar is more engaging, more complex, and more interesting. The same goes for the rest of the characters. Her friends are wrestling with prejudicial feelings. Readers are witnesses to acts against Samar’s uncle and his friends, but they also witness regular teenage angst. Her mother is trying to come to terms with her past too. The ending is one that you don’t see coming, and it hits you over the head. Things change for everyone, and the evolution is natural, inevitable, and satisfactory. I need to say that I love the cover too, it’s highly appealing and eye-catching, and reflects the nature of an equally appealing read.