Synopses & 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 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.
"'Before Uncle Sandeep walked back into my life, I'd never cared that I was a Sikh.... But that was before 9/11.' Raised in suburban New Jersey, 17-year-old Samar has few connections to her Indian heritage. Her mother, having felt oppressed by her conservative Sikh parents, cut ties with them years earlier ('My mom spent a whole lot of time... smudging the hard lines that made us different from everyone around us'). Samar's uncle, eager to reconnect in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, helps the teenager learn about her background, taking her to a Sikh temple and reintroducing her estranged grandparents into her life. A number of acts of violence, including an incident in which some classmates throw bottles at her uncle's car while they are driving, further spur Samar's awakening, causing her to reconsider what it means to be Indian in America. Debut novelist Meminger raises complex questions of identity, but avoids moralizing or spelling out answers for readers, who will likely be hooked as Samar takes a second look at her relationships with her boyfriend, friends and family, while seeking a better understanding of herself. Ages 14 up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"An important book for young people about coming to terms with identity, prejudice, and family in a post-9/11 world. A touching portrait of a strong-willed daughter and her rebellious mother." -- Marina Budhos, author of Ask Me No Questions and Tell Us We're Home
"Everyone -- teens and adults alike -- should read this wise, warm story of family, friendship, tolerance, and finding out who you really are." -- Anjali Banerjee, author of Maya Running and Looking for Bapu
"I want to give this novel to every teen on the hunt for the unvarnished truth about her own story." -- Mitali Perkins, author of Secret Keeper
About the Author
Neesha Meminger was born in Punjab, India, at the tail end of the 1960s, and grew up in Toronto, Canada. She currently lives in New York City, where she and her husband spend most days being ignored by a seven-year-old Leo and a four-year-old Aries. This is her first novel. Visit Neesha's website atneeshameminger.com.