Cat's gay best friend, Patrick, is brutally beaten into a coma. While the local police and townspeople are satisfied with thinking that the beating was the result of drunken out-of-towners, Cat will not rest until she finds out the truth behind this hate crime. In the small, poor town of Black Creek, troubles of abuse, drugs, and sex are swept away, forgotten, ignored. Cat knows this first hand, as she had her own horrific experience years ago, which was brushed off just as quickly and coldly as Patrick's beating. No one stood up for her then, but Cat is determined to find out what really happened to Patrick, and stand up for him now. Unfortunately, there is more to the story than meets the eye, as Cat puts herself in dangers as she fights to expose the truth.
"Someone needed to track down whoever went after Patrick, and that someone was me."
A heartbreaking book, SHINE was a heavy read and author Lauren Myracle pulled no punches in telling this difficult story. Coming in under 400 pages, she managed to paint a very realistic, and very dark, picture of a poor small town, its people, and their struggles with their very harsh every day life.
While I was approximately 100 pages into the book, I remember wondering why Lauren Myracle chose SHINE for her title. There didn't seem to be much light in Cat's world at all, certainly not enough Shine. Cat's world was, in a world, dark. Then, I came across this passage, and it became clear to me. Cat recalled Mama Sweetie, Patrick's grandmother, and her surrogate grandmother, bestowing on her some wisdom:
She wagged her finger and said, "God loves you even on your blackest days, and He will always, always be there to guide you home. All you have to do is look for the light of His love. As long as you remember that one thing, why, then you can cast off the darkness and shine again, can't you?"
A girl living in a tough world like Black Creek needed a Mama Sweetie. Cat knew her town had its problems, and the people she knew were involved in some nasty things, but she courageously pushes her way into the ugliest of dwellings, and deals with the creepiest of characters, uncovering fearsome truths, all for the justice of her friend, Patrick.
In short, SHINE is an unforgettable book.
I had not read any of the books that Lauren Myracle is best known for - bff, ttyl and l8r g8r, from her Internet Girls series, or Rhymes with Witches - and through these edgy books, she has already seen her fair share of controversy. Her Internet Girls series regularly ends up on the ALA's Most Challenged Books list. So, when her latest book, SHINE, ended up in the news for the National Book Award controversy (see article link below for the full story) I had to read it and find out what this author was all about! I didn't even know what SHINE was about before I read it, but Lauren and Amulet handled the situation with such grace, I wanted to show my support.
Article in NYTimes regarding National Book Award
Lauren Myracle webpage, Facebook, Twitter and Blog
About the Book:
About the Author:
Lauren Myracle is the author of the New York Times bestselling Internet Girls series (ttyl, ttfn, and l8r, g8r), Rhymes with Witches, Bliss, and the new Flower Power series, among many other books for teens and young people. She lives in Colorado with her family. Visit her online at www.laurenmyracle.com.
*Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher