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"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. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Samar (aka Sam) considers herself just a regular teenage girl, even though she is Indian American. Her mother has kept her away from her old-fashioned, very strict family, and she never has identified with her Indian heritage. None of this has ever bothered her, aside from the fact that she longs for a large family like her best friend's instead of just herself and her mom. One day, shortly after 9/11, a man wearing a turban shows up on her doorstep. He is her estranged uncle, and through him, Sam begins to realize how important being Indian American is to her identity. This novel is especially poignant as our country continues to deal with prejudice against Southeast Asians and individuals from the Middle East. Readers will be drawn in to Sam's story and her struggles to make sense of and combine her two cultures. This admirably explores identity and difference through the voice of a girl who thinks she is a typical teenager.--Koss, Melanie Copyright 2009 Booklist
School Library Journal
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Gr 6-10-Samar, an Indian-American teen, blends in easily with her classmates and has never known her extended family or their culture or Sikh religion. That changes when her long-lost Uncle Sandeep shows up, in a turban, on her doorstep four days after the 9/11 attacks to reach out to the family, and an Indian classmate refers to her as a "coconut"-brown on the outside, white on the inside. Samar soon realizes that she has been missing a vital part of herself and she seeks to discover it. Along the way, her path to self-discovery is riddled with pain, racism, healing, love, and reconciliation. Meminger's debut book is a beautiful and sensitive portrait of a young woman's journey from self-absorbed naivete to selfless, unified awareness.-Terri Clark, Smokey Hill Library, Centennial, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.