Shine by Lauren Myracle
© 1 May 2011 by Amulet Books
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.
Thoughts, Ramblings, Musings...
I've actually been struggling quite a bit to write this review--not because I didn't enjoy the book but because I liked it SO MUCH that I'm worried I won't be able to convey that love. This is so different from much of what I've read lately and it was an engrossing, thrilling, and much-needed change of pace. (Also, a disclaimer before you begin reading--this reviews is kind of long!)
From the moment I read the opening newspaper article to when I read the final page, Lauren Myracle's Shine pulled me in. It was a truly spell-binding read--one that I put off for far to long. I know I won't be the first to say that some of Myracle's other popular novels don't hold a lot of appeal to me--not that they're not probably fantastic reads, just not my type. I guess it just goes to show Myracle's diversity as a writer because Shine was my "type" of book.
From the start, I felt completely sucked into the atmosphere the author creates. The bigotry was so indicative of the small-mindedness that is often engendered in that setting. I could connect so well to the characters that I felt stifled right along with them - stuck in a world where my ideas didn't fit in.
The main character, Cat, was incredibly relatedable in all her flaws. She's far from a perfect character, but I fell in love with her more and more every page. She became my best friend. I wanted to know on a personal level why she had separated herself from all her friends. I wanted to understand and I wanted to be there for her as she worked through years of pain and separation. When the description calls this a coming-of-age story, it's spot on. Watching Cat essentially grow up in the span of just over a week is harrowing and beautiful all at the same time--watching her open back up to people in her life and even the possibility of a new friend/love.
All the characters in this novel were really well-done. They were so dynamic and did things that you didn't expect. It was truly refreshing. It made every turn of the page a new adventure because the characters could turn out to be or do something different than you expected at every turn. The mystery is, of course, the plot focus, but I really felt that the atmosphere and character were the driving force. They created the mystery and moved it along and created the twists that made the story unpredictable and kept me turning page after page.
This is truly a fabulous read. I want nothing more than to own a finished copy of this one so I can read it over and over again. I bet your library has it--you should go borrow it.
Disclosure: I received this book as an eGalley via NetGalley from Amulet Books for my honest opinion. The source has in no way affected my review.
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