Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: Shine (Lauren Myracle)

Title: Shine
Author: Lauren Myracle
Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 376
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.

Geography Connection:

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.

6 comments:

Christina T said...

I've only read Lauren Myracle's more "chick lit" type of writing. This sounds like a fantastic book with an emotional punch.

I participate in NetGalley but I am very behind on reading and reviewing e-ARCs at the moment. I did get an e-mail from them saying that there is a glitch with downloading to Kindle. Hopefully they will fix it soon. I usually read the e-books at my computer (don't have an e-reader yet) but it does kind of tie you down unlike a paper ARC.

Thanks for sharing your review. I look forward to reading Shine when it is released. There is a similarly themed YA book that was released last year, The Less-Dead by April Lurie. Are you familiar with it?

Helen's Book Blog said...

Christina--I am hoping to control myself on Netgalley and not get carried away ordering too many books. Glad to hear they are working on the Kindle issue. I haven't heard of the Less-Dead, I'll go check it out, thanks

Mrs. DeRaps said...

Though I don't live in the South, I do live in the rural northeast. This book sounds like the experiences of many of my students. I can't wait to read this one!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Mrs. DeRaps--Unfortunately, the book won't be published until April 2011, but it's definitely worth reading!

Aleetha said...

The synopsis and your review is intriguing.
Will put this book on my To Be Requested on NG :D

Helen's Book Blog said...

Aleetha--Intriguing is a good word for the book as well; it made me think