Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Review: Shine (Lauren Myracle)
Author: Lauren Myracle
Genre: YA fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Challenges: Mystery/Suspense, Reading from my shelves (does it count if it's digital?); Awesome Authors
FTC Disclosure: I got this book for free from Netgalley
Summary (from the author's website): 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 the backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery.
Review: This was my first Netgalley book and I really liked it even though I wish I could have downloaded it onto my Kindle. For some reason that wasn't an option so I sat in front of my computer for the better part of today and read the whole book in one day! And, a confession. I have never read a Lauren Myracle book before. How did that happen? Are her others as good as this one?
Myracle did a wonderful job of setting the scene throughout this book: life in poverty, life in the rural deep south, life for teenagers, and life for people living in a small town where the economy has recently gone horribly wrong.
I felt for the characters and got to know them all well: Cat the main girl who is distraught by the hate crime committed against her gay friend, Patrick; Christian, Tommy, and Beef the teenage boys who drink, party, and have gotten involved with Meth since there isn't much else to do; Robert the eleven-year-old who just wants to be accepted by the older kids; and the adults who are trying to hold it all together. Their interactions and conversations are so real and so raw that I felt their anguish, their hurt, and their desire to figure out what happened to their friend.
Myracle is no stranger to dealing with tough issues and she tackles many of them in this novel: drugs, drinking, abuse, puberty, homophobia, and religion. But the book is by no means preachy. Issues are laid out before the reader through the lives of this small town's citizens, showing that it takes all types of people to create a community.
Myracle doesn't specify which state this book takes place in, but it's likely to be Georgia or Alabama. The town has only 700 people living in it so the setting is rural! I have never traveled to the south, except for Florida, which I don't really consider southern. I know, I am probably wrong, but it seems so different from the deep south. One of the most significant locations in this book is called Suicide Rock, a place where kids party and jump from the high rocks into the water. I remember doing that when I was in Vermont one summer and it was scary and so much fun! Click to see my updated Google Map.