Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Novel That Makes a Difference: Shine



Shine
by Lauren Myracle
Amulet, 2011
384 pages

Due May 2011

Passionate, powerful, and poignant, this novel will cause a cacophony in libraries, book stores, blogs, and hopefully, even forward-thinking classrooms. Myracle leaves her girl/chick-lit earlier novels behind her, and steps to the center stage with this complex and grim read.

Shine is a gritty novel that will stick with readers making them uncomfortable and even angry, but it is also a novel that will cause discussion/debate on a number of issues: poverty, ignorance, illegal drug use, alcoholism, hatred, race relations, gay/lesbian/transgender issues, brutality, bullying, and the human capacity to forgive.

Cat Robinson is a sixteen year old girl growing up in the backwoods of rural America where the Internet/I-phones and laptops are non-existent. Cat has to go to the next town by bus to use a computer at the public library. People who live in Black Creek, North Carolina, are for the most part poor and uneducated. Most drop out in high school; in fact, only Cat and two others are going on to their senior year. Many jobs have been lost in the town and people turn to alcohol and meth for relief. Teen boys work peddling meth for the local meth cooker Wally.

It is in these hills that Cat's best friend Patrick is brutally attacked, bludgeoned and left for dead. The sheriff calls it a hate crime since Patrick is known to be gay. Cat knows better; she knows that the sheriff isn't looking for the guilty person. The official report says Patrick was probably hurt by college kids who stopped at the convenience store where he works. Cat goes from a shrinking violet to a determined and strong girl who fights for what's right.

As Cat uncovers clues, readers will be saddened and disgusted by this picture of Americana--a town where dreams are best left not dreamed and the future only looks brighter through the bottom of a bottle or the haze of meth.

This book will be widely read among teens who read authors David Levithan and Alex Sanchez. Shine is a novel that will stand the test of time. It is The Outsiders of the 21st Century.

In the end, the reader is left with a feeling of optimism as the guilty person is found and Patrick turns the corner. Cat and Patrick find it within themselves to forgive and continue to heal.

Highly, highly recommended for high school collections.
Warning: too mature for middle school. Sex, language, violence, gay issues, drugs, mature content.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.

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