Shine, Coconut Moon
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.This looks like a really cool read! Read an excerpt here.
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.
Neesha Meminger was born in Punjab, India where she lived until she was almost five. For the next twenty years, she was in Toronto, Canada until she moved to the US. She spent her childhood escaping into novels by authors like Judy Blume, Lois Duncan, S.E. Hinton and Paula Danziger. Her biggest wish was to project herself into these novels.
As a teenager, Neesha began writing her own stories, peopled almost exclusively with characters of color and women. And bad poetry -- she also began writing bad poetry. In the next decade or so, her writing would appear in anthologies, journals, the Village Voice, and various online magazines.
Neesha decided to pursue her love for storytelling by enrolling in an MFA program at The New School For Social Research. There, she completed her first full length manuscript. Neesha now admits it was a terrible manuscript, and understands that this is why it was never published; not because no one could see it for its brilliance. But writing that manuscript gave Neesha an invaluable amount of insight and knowledge into the craft of storytelling. And because of that, she still treasures that manuscript to this day.
Neesha is a longtime advocate for the rights of women, children and youth, People of Color, and the LGBT communities. She has served as a board member for many arts and cultural organizations, helped set up housing for single mothers of color, and counseled youth in crisis.
SHINE, COCONUT MOON, her first novel, has been nominated as a Best Books for YA pick by the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Services division.
Neesha lives in New York City with her husband and their two children. Visit www.neeshameminger.com for more info on Neesha.