Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bookanistas: Shine

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.

My writing bestie Heather had been raving about this book for months, bugging encouraging me to pick it up. I had my own copy, and I even sent it with my buddy Tameka to the Decatur Book Festival to get signed for me, but, for some reason I just kept passing over it in favor of other books.

Well, I say that like I don't know why I was passing over it. I know exactly why. It's because I knew it was about a hate crime committed against a gay teen, and I wasn't sure I could handle that. Quite a few years ago I was in a local production of The Laramie Project, a play written about the murder of gay teen Matthew Shepard. Matthew's story broke my heart prior to my involvement in that production, but living and breathing the aftermath of his killing through rehearsals and performing that show, well, it became even more personal and meaningful for me. (If you have never seen a production of The Laramie Project, I encourage you to do so. Or watch the movie. It has an amazing cast.)

Anyway, I wanted to read this book. I did. But I was afraid of it. I was afraid it was going to upset me too much.

Finally I picked it up and I'm happy to say that, while the subject of a hate crime against a gay teen is obviously disturbing, the book itself isn't disturbing. It doesn't focus so much on the hate crime itself, but more the reaction of one girl, the victim's former best friend, to the crime. It is a mystery, and Cat tracks down the clues to solve it. She's also dealing with some of her own heavy issues, the issues that caused her friendships to fizzle out. She does all this in a setting that is almost like a character itself, the rural south.

I know many people have only heard of this book because of the National Book Award drama that surrounded it. I'm glad that such a powerful and moving book got attention, though I wish it was because it actually was nominated, because this book deserves praise and recognition! Fantastic, slow-building mystery, foreboding setting, and gorgeous, gorgeous writing. I hate that I waited so long to read it.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today...

Christine Fonseca  interviews author Denise Grover Swank
Jessi Kirby and Jen Hayley are wowed by WANDERLOVE
Corrine Jackson is mesmerized by MAY B.
Stasia Ward Kehoe  interviews DIES IRAE author Christine Fonseca
Debra Driza is entranced by HEMLOCK
Katy Upperman delves into THE DISENCHANTMENTS
Nikki Katz  celebrates CINDER
Tracy Banghart  marvels at JULIET IMMORTAL
Jessica Love spotlights SHINE

24 comments:

  1. First of all, I love your blog layout! I guess it's been a little while since I last visited.

    I've heard so many good things about this book but I've never taken the time to find out what it's about. It sounds really good. I guess I have to read it now!

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    1. Thanks Jess! And, yes, check it out. It's a great book.

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  2. I have this book too. I haven't read it yet for the same reasons you said. I imagine it's good, but I guess I want it also to be hopeful?

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    1. It is not at all as bleak as it seems. There is definitely a hopeful note to it.

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  3. I find myself passing over YA books with bigger social issues like this for the same reasons. I remember reading Lauren Halse Anderson's Wintergirls and feeling incredibly sad even though the book was BRILLIANT. But the topic of an eating disorder was too close to home for me.

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    1. It's HARD when the books hit too close to home. I like to read for fun, so when books get too serious I sometimes shy away from them in favor of things that are fun and light. But then when I finally read them I wish I had done it sooner.

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  4. I will have to add this one to my list now too.

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    1. I just keep piling them on your list, don't I? ;-)

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  5. I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, but it was really well written and I thought it deserved the nomination. Kudos to Lauren Myracle for handling the whole debacle with grace.

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    1. I was amazed by the way she handled the whole situation. I know I wouldn't have been able to have as much class and grace as she did. Made me respect her even more.

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  6. I haven't read this book yet for the same reasons! It's a goal to make it a February read no matter what because Lauren Myracle is awesome and because from what everyone has raved about I know I'll love it!

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    1. You will love it. It's not as sad and depressing as I thought it was going to be.

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  7. Thanks for this review! I've heard so many good things about this book!

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  8. This has been on my TBR list for a while and I've waited too long to read it too. I feel like this is a trend with every book you've mentioned lately! Must. Read. Faster.

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    1. I know...I can't keep up with the books I keep adding to my list.

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  9. I think the subject would be hard to read as well, just because I can't understand how people can be that cruel.

    But if it's well written and not terribly depressing, I'd give it a shot.

    Thanks for the review!

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    1. It's not terribly depressing. There are a lot of tough issues in the book, but she handles them in a way that doesn't make you all depressed about life. I promise. :-)

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  10. I've avoided SHINE for pretty much the same reason you described, Jess. Thanks for speaking to its awesomeness. I'll definitely pick it up the next time I spot it at the store.

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    1. I'm so glad to know I wasn't the only one avoiding this book because of the subject matter. But I promise it has so much more going on. It's an amazing book.

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  11. My old high school is doing The Laramie Project this spring. I always write about the plays for the local newspaper and go see them. Can't wait!

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    1. YES! It's so good! I loved doing that show. It's amazing. I hope you like it!

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  12. I think Shine is brilliant. The world is completely visceral and the characters surprising at every turn. The Laramie Project profoundly affected me, as did Angels in America, but these stories MUST be told.

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    1. I never got around to seeing Angels In America. I wanted to see a live production, but I never found one close by. I guess I'll just have to rent it.

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