Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Shine, Coconut Moon” as Want to Read:
Shine, Coconut Moon
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Shine, Coconut Moon

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  394 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
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 wa
ebook, 256 pages
Published March 10th 2009 by Margaret K. McElderry Books (first published February 20th 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Shine, Coconut Moon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Shine, Coconut Moon

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 13, 2013 Phoebe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yareads
I picked up this debut novel because 1.) the cover (yes, what they say about covers is true) and 2.) what I know about Sikhs could fit on the thin end of the reel-to-reel inside a VHS cassette labeled "Annie."

I've given the novel three stars only because my personal preference is for literature with a certain poetry to the language, and this book is fairly straight-forward. Really it deserves five stars for permitting me insight into a culture long-hidden from my experience, for the sharpness o
Soobie's heartbroken
I finished this book at 3.30 this morning.

It's weird. As an Italian, I never have to face race or ethnicity questions. In the Italian census you don't have to mark anything regarding your race. I mean, I'm not sure what the government will do with such data. Yet in the US census you have to mark if you're white, black or Pacific Islanders. True that the US has always been an immigration country, still... I mean, according to Thomas A. Guglielmo, when Italians first came to the US they didn't kno
Mar 02, 2009 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: debs2009
Shine, Coconut Moon really appealed to me because of the topics that it deals with. What does it mean to be an American? Can you be an American but still keep your old family traditions? I really liked how Neesha handles these topics. Samar knows nothing about her mother's family until her uncle steps back into her life. Along the way she learns that she can be an American while still following some of her family’s traditions. I really enjoyed how Samar grows and learns about her mother's side o ...more
Shine, Coconut Moon is a thoughtful YA book about a teen struggling with her Sikh identity in post-9/11 New York City. Sam's mother rejected her Sikh culture, and as a result Sam grew up a "coconut"--brown on the outside, white on the inside. She believes there's no difference between herself and her best friend Molly, and she and her mother consider themselves perfectly assimilated in their suburban New Jersey society. But one day, Samar's Uncle Sandeep shows up on their doorstep, asking to be ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jaglvr for

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
Jan 22, 2011 hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Finally, a book about an Indian girl that isn't just about trying to get away from "tradition." Finally, a YA book about a girl who isn't white but whose life story isn't only about being brown. Finally, the first YA book I've read that deals with the current sociopolitical climate and its treatment of immigrants and minorities. I kind of knew this would be good going into it, since I read the author's blog, but it was still refreshing. I wish the dialogue had been written a bit better, since of ...more
Dec 17, 2008 R.J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a thoughtful and well-structured book about family, culture, and identity in the aftermath of 9/11. Samar is a very believable teenager, and her family members are both flawed and human. The way in which Sammy's quest to learn more about her South Asian origins affected her perception of herself and her relationships with various schoolmates, family and friends kept me engaged until the end.
Reader Rabbit
May 26, 2009 Reader Rabbit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Samar, or Sam as she calls herself, is a coconut. That is, someone who's brown on the outside but white on the inside. Her mother only helps contribute to Sam's disconnection to her heritage. She's abandoned her parents and their old-fashioned lifestyle and hasn't even allowed Sam to meet her grandparents.

But it's not like Sam cares. She has her own friends, a cute boyfriend and a modern life to keep up with. Then everything changes with the tragedy of 9/11.

Because of 9/11, atrocious acts of vio
I found this book extraordinarily didactic and oversimplified. I found many of the characters frustrating and shallow, while the villains felt like caricatures. Overall, while necessary in content, it failed in execution.
Christina (Reading Extensively)
Coconut is a term for a person who is "brown on the outside, white on the inside." One of Sam's Indian classmates brings up the issue because Sam doesn't seem to identify with her heritage at all. She knows nothing about being Sikh and doesn't even know Punjabi. This idea is central to the book. Because of Uncle Sandeep and her Indian classmate Balvir, Sam starts to investigate her culture. She doesn't want to be a "coconut" anymore. Her uncle wisely says that a coconut is also a "symbol of resi ...more
Jan 28, 2012 Dolly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm always surprised at the stigma that exists against YA fiction. While some of the genre is indeed composed of dreadful, nauseating, poorly-written Twilight-esque prose, plenty of YA stories that are lucid, poignant, and meaningful.

One such example is "shine, coconut moon" by Neesha Meminger. While at first glance, the book seems simple in its depiction of a young American girl's journey through the ups and downs of high school, there is terrific social commentary glittering within the pages.
The story takes place in the days and months following the 9/11 attacks. Samar Ahluwahlia, known as Sam to her friends, is a seventeen-year-old Sikh Indian teen living in suburban New Jersey with her single mom, a therapist who has all but renounced her own Indian family and culture. When Samar's long lost uncle Sandeep comes back into their lives looking to reconnect, he awakens Samar to a whole new world -- the world of her Sikh Indian cultural and ethnic heritage.

After an Indian girl at schoo
Ashley W
Neesha Meminger's Shine, Coconut Moon is a very quick, yet thought-provoking read. The novel follows seventeen year old Samar who deals with trying to preserve and learn about her Sikh heritage in the days directly after 9/11 after her uncle shows up wanting to bridge the gap in the family that Samar's mother created. As I read, I found myself empathizing with Samar, and it brought back memories of elementary school where I distinctly remember being called an "oreo". So that being said, I unde ...more
Mar 26, 2009 george rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Samar, known as Sam to most everyone around her, is a seventeen-year-old Indian-American. Except that aside from her name and her complexion, Sam isn't really Indian--she's completely assimilated; and that's how her mother wants her to be. Sam has never known any members of her family other than her mom until soon after September 11th a turban-wearing man shows up at her doorstep. The man turns out to be her mother's younger brother--the uncle that she's never known. The recent events have led U ...more
Canadian Children's Book Centre
Reviewed by Inderjit Deogun

In her first young adult novel, Neesha Meminger tells the story of 17-year-old Samar Ahluwahlia, who has never bothered to learn about her Sikh heritage or her old-fashioned family. That is, until, only days after 9/11, a turbanwearing man rings her doorbell: it’s her estranged Uncle Sandeep.

His unexpected arrival brings to light not only the cruel reality of how the post-9/11 world perceives those of Indian heritage, but also Samar’s need to meet her grandparents. Aft
Dec 29, 2009 Deborah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Seventeen-year-old Samar's, aka Sammy, interest in her Indian and Sikh heritage rises when her estranged uncle comes back into her's and her mother's lives weeks after 9/11 (the story takes places very shortly the events). Due to her own strict upbringing, Samar's mother has made every effort to make her feel American not Indian, but with the emergance of new family and the sudden judgement brought on by the terrorist attacks, Samar is suddenly made to confront her heritage and culture and who s ...more
Medeia Sharif
Aug 04, 2010 Medeia Sharif rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Samar is an Indian-American teenager who fits in with her friends. Teased because of her ethnicity when she was younger, she thinks she has things straight in high school. She has a best friend and a boyfriend. Her mother tries to be everything to Sam, since her father is not in the picture. Also, Sam has never met her grandparents because her mother is estranged from them; according to her mom, they are strict and narrow-minded.

Life seems okay, but then Uncle Sandeep, whom Sam hasn't seen sinc
May 07, 2012 Fatimah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a seventeen-year-old girl, Samar a.k.a. Sam who has never known much about her Indian heritage neither has it ever bothered her until an unexpected visit from a guy in a turban after the 9/11 attacks who turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. several incidents take place where a girl at school calls her a coconut -- brown on the outside, white on the inside, which makes sam want to get to know her family but is talked ...more
The Loft
Seventeen-year-old Samar (known as Sam to her friends) knows very little of her Indian culture or Sikh religion. Her single mother has raised her to fit in as an American teen; her mother has also kept her from getting to know her uncle and “old-fashioned” grandparents. That was all before 9/11.

Shortly after that, a stranger arrives at her front door in a turban, startling Sam at first glance. It turns out he is her Uncle Sandeep, and he is eager to reconnect with Samar and her mother. When Uncl
Jan 19, 2013 Rachna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was interested in reading this book because it's the first YA I've come across where the main character is a Sikh American girl. I thought it'd be interesting to read from a perspective that is more similar to my own than most YA books. The premise was good, and I liked the character development that occurred. However, there was little emotional connection - it seemed like much of the book was just words on a page. The author didn't really pull you into what the characters were feeling as a wh ...more
Samar(Sammy)lives alone with her mother. They are of Indian descent, but Sammy's mom has never spoken about her family and has kept Sammy far away from them, even though they live only 90 minutes away. Immediately after 9/11, she comes home to find a man with a turban on his head at their front door. It's her Uncle Sandeep, who wants to reconnect because after 9/11, family feels very important. Samar's uncle is the victim of abuse by people "defending" America. (He's called Osama) even though he ...more
Nov 07, 2008 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Only about 100 pages in, but am really enjoying this story of friendship, family and identity.

Finished it!

Set against the backdrop of 9/11, the story follows Sam as she struggles with family relationships, identity, and prejudice. Separated from her extended family by her mom's choice, she's been raised as a mainstream American teen and knows nothing about her heritage. When her Uncle Sandeep shows up on her doorstep, readers witness a family that struggles to reconnect and a main character who
A lot about this book I like. Samar is Indian-American and her uncle wears a turban and she wants to learn about her heritage and we shouldn't judge people and often we have racism we didn't even know about just lurking under the surface... but the author seems to try to hard to make this book hip, and some of the cultural references don't add up. I don't know if teens would notice or not, but this is set in the weeks and months following Sept 11, and the teens in this book are texting like mad ...more
Set in New Jersey just days after 9/11, this engrossing novel tells the story of 17-year-old Samar (Sammy) who is completely out of touch with her Indian heritage until an estranged uncle in a turban shows up on her doorstep. Through her story, teens too young to remember 9/11 will gain an appreciation of the emotions, fears and prejudice against foreigners that prevailed in late 2001 -- issues that remain extremely relevant today. Sammy's difficult but ultimately satisfying re-connection with h ...more
Not life altering by any means this is a true coming-of-age story about a girl discovering her Sikh and Indian roots when her mother has been covering them up in order to protect herself from the pain of stereotyping and disappointment.

Samar's best friend is Irish Molly and until now everything's been cool. But then September 11th happens and Samar's uncle appears after fifteen years. These things lead to Samar's need to discover her past even as her mother is furious and people in the communit
The terrorists have just taken out the Twin Towers on 9/11, when a few days later, a man in a turban shows up on Samar's doorstep. She is astonished to realize that it is her uncle, her mother's brother. For her whole life, Sam has lived a very American life with only her mother. Suddenly she is struggling with a lot of questions concerning her self-identity, family, race, and religion.

It is a little disconcerting, because the book is set just a few days after 9/11. However, because of the actua
Danni Green
Oct 06, 2015 Danni Green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful story, told in a refreshingly simple style that really allows the narrative to speak for itself. I felt like I really got to know the protagonist as if she were a new friend of mine, inviting me into her story as she comes to understand her ethnic and cultural identity on her own terms while struggling with the racism and internalized oppression of the people around her. Although there were some overlooked details that were a little distracting -- the best friend's attitude s ...more
One of the best YA books I have read this year. The author takes a familiar tale, one of self exploration and family, and makes it incredibly gripping. The particulars of Punjabi Sikh culture keep the story from being genericized and the post 9/11 time period allows for some frank explorations of othering and violence. I also really enjoyed a particular passage where Samar, the main character, said that 'discovering her past was like finding a book all about her' (or something to that effect). A ...more
Aug 03, 2009 Meredith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
It's interesting that a "9/11 novel" feels like historical fiction, but I guess today's fifteen year old was only 7 when it happened, so it will very soon be treated as history for young adults.

This is definitely for older YAs, or ones that are okay for drinking and frank discussions of sex (by normal teens)...but the main story of a girl raised by a mom who has rejected her Sikh heritage/family, who questions her identity and encounters violence directed toward her uncle and his temple in the
Carol Littlejohn
Sep 25, 2009 Carol Littlejohn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Samar Ahluwahlia, whose family is from India and of Punjabi heritage, has no knowledge of her past because her single mother has kept her from her family. Through the Internet and friends, she learns about her family’s religion and background. She discovers that she’s a “coconut”—brown on the outside, white on the inside. Once she experiences this, she understands she can still shine like a coconut moon. This unusual book can be used with older groups or younger mother and daughter book clubs. T ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Secrets of Truth and Beauty
  • Secret Keeper
  • Project Sweet Life
  • Mudville
  • Waiting to Score
  • Winnie's War
  • Mare's War
  • Paris Pan Takes the Dare
  • My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters
  • Fortune's Folly
  • A Wish After Midnight
  • Dull Boy
  • Shooting Star
  • Rain Is Not My Indian Name
  • One Wish
  • House of Dance
  • This Is What I Want to Tell You
  • Eighth-Grade Superzero
Neesha Meminger was born in Punjab, India, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and currently lives in New York City. Her debut novel, SHINE, COCONUT MOON, was listed as a Smithsonian Notable Book for Children and made the New York Public Library's Top 100 Books for Teens - Stuff For the Teen Age list. JAZZ IN LOVE, Neesha's second novel for young adults, released to rave reviews from online bloggers and i ...more
More about Neesha Meminger...

Share This Book

“But the coconut is also a symbol of resilience, Samar. Even in the conditions where there's very little nourishment and even less nurturance, it flourishes, growing taller than most of the plants around it.” 34 likes
More quotes…