Amulet Books, 376 pages
"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."
When I first saw the cover for Shine, I was instantly drawn to the book. The cover is both gorgeous and haunting at the same time. The last flower on a tree that looks like it can be both blooming and dying at the same time is such a stunning look. This achingly beautiful cover definitely rings true with the achingly beautiful story it enfolds.
Lauren Myracle did a simply marvelous job of making a small southern town and its people seem real. If you thought you grew up in a small town with people breathing down your back, wait until you read this book. Your perspective will change, just like mine.
Shine primarily centers around a young girl named Cat. She had something done to her when she was younger that left her scarred and lonely, especially when growing up with an absent mother and a lazy father that lives outside the house in his own little camper. This leaves Cat with her older brother Christian and her Aunt Tildy, both of whom she has a profound realization about at the end of the story.
Almost all of Shine is about Cat discovering herself and finding the courage to stand up for what is right, even when it is incredibly dangerous to do so. Cat's best guy friend Patrick had a vicious hate crime done to him, simply because he was gay, that left him in a coma in the hospital. And with the town being so small, the offender clearly is someone in town, and Cat looks for him while no one else wants to "stir up trouble simply for a gay kid." This person knows that Cat is looking for them, and they clearly don't want to be found if the threats Cat receives are any indication.
Cat is a very flawed character, and we see this side of her throughout the story as Myracle is not afraid to show it. In fact, it is by overcoming her flaws that Cat becomes a stronger person who learns how to stand up for herself and what is right. She really is quite an inspirational character.
Shine clearly shows how brutal the loss innocence can be. Once it's gone, it's gone for good. All that a person can do is hold their head high and hold on to what they believe in, no matter how much their world has been shaken. Shine also shows that you don't always know a person -- people CAN change, sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. Shine shows how important it is to not push away your true friends and family, people who actually care for you, simply because you have been hurt. It is these people who help you get through these things and are there for you whenever you need them to be.
Loss, guilt, tragedy, and courage are all concepts that Lauren Myracle tackles in Shine, and she does so profoundly, all the while presenting an amazing coming-of-age story that is difficult to forget.
Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.