Shine by Lauren Myracle
May 1, 2011; Amulet Books
When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.
Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Shine is a whodunnit mystery disguised as a novel. Or is it a novel disguised as a whodunnit mystery? Cat's childhood friend Patrick was savagely beaten and is in a coma barely holding onto life. Cat sets out to find his attacker. In doing so, she has to confront her past and all the people in her community that she has labeled as ignorant, cruel, or addicts, be they friends or family.
Patrick's beating is the frame around which the entire story was built, but it's not the most important part. The story really depends upon Cat's neighbors and family. Cat lives in a rural, Southern town. People are uneducated and very poor. Hardly anyone is interested in accepting a gay teenager like Patrick or really interested in discovering who nearly killed him - since his homosexuality is abhorrent to them. Cat has separated herself from all of them. After an incident when she was 12 or 13, she turned inward. She left her friend Patrick and ignored everyone else in town. Now she needs them to discover Patrick's attacker.
The townspeople are richly portrayed. So many of them have been ravaged by drugs and alcohol. Others are simply ignorant. It was easy for the reader to look down upon them, as Cat seems to do. I liked how, in their own way, they challenged Cat to look at herself and realize that her abandoning them was not the wisest thing to do. These people may be ignorant and have lots of problems, but they're still people of worth.
Lauren Myracle does a great job of keeping the tension high in this book. It definitely isn't a thriller or suspense novel. It moves slowly, but there's so much going on and so much emphasis on the characters that you really need to take your time. There is very little humor in this book, if at all. Cat is not a happy girl and no one in town has an easy life. It's not a book to read when you're having a bad day.
There's a little bit of romance in the book - a really little bit. It was unnecessary to the story. The addition of Cat's love interest was an awkward turn to the story. I think the book would have been just as good without it.
On the whole, Shine is a beautifully written novel that transports you to another world and introduces you to characters who you will love, hate, and pity.
Rating: 4 / 5
I need to pick this book up. Jess from Gone with the words, read it and love it. Thanks for the review!ReplyDelete
I don't normally like whodunnit mysteries but this one seems like it is worth checking out. To be honest, I hadn't heard of this book before but it sounds like it would be enlightening. How are these people in the town of 'worth'? You certainly have me curious about that seeing as how they aren't concerned about who was responsible for putting a teenager in a coma.ReplyDelete
Sometimes I wonder why a love interest is thrown in, I think a lot of times a story will be just as successful, if not more so, without it. This sounds like an intriguing read though, I like that the characters are so rich and complex and make you examine yourself and your reaction in turn. Lovely review Alison!ReplyDelete
Awesome review. :0 I really want to read this one, though it doesn't sound like a light-hearted read, I think it sounds intriguing. And Lauren Myracle is a great author.ReplyDelete
Great review, Alison! I agree that it would have done fine without the small romance, but to me it lightened this heavy story a little bit, so maybe there's that for some readers. I'm glad you liked it though! I wish more people knew about this book.ReplyDelete
Wow. This seems really intriguing. I love books where ideas are challenged and this seems like such a good exploration of the town and the characters. I just added it to my Goodreads list.ReplyDelete
I just picked up this book from NetGalley. After reading your review it has me even more intrigued, though I wish there was a little more romance involved.ReplyDelete
I just picked this one up from the library. I love Myracle's other books and was very excited to read this. I also wonder if the love story was suppose to balance the heaviness of the novel. Really looking forweward to reading this after reading your review.ReplyDelete
I'll have to check out this book--I've heard of the author but not the book before. Thanks for the review!ReplyDelete
I did NOT read your full review, as I have this one to read and review myself, but I always love seeing ratings, because they give me an idea of whether I'm going to like the book ahead of time!ReplyDelete
Love mysteries! This one definitely sounds intriguing. Though I also get annoyed when love interests are thrown in for seemingly no reason.ReplyDelete
I've been wanting to read this one!ReplyDelete
I'm putting this one on my to-read list. Thanks for sharing your review.ReplyDelete
I got this book for re yew on NetGalley. I began reading it and thought it was so good and beautiful that I bought a copy. I can't wait to finish it! Terrific review :)ReplyDelete
This sounds like a lovely book. The cover made me think initially it would be a slow moving but very interesting story. I read for the characters and I'm so happy to hear that this is a 'character' book - one where I can really get to know who I am reading about. Excellent review Alison!ReplyDelete