Publish date: April 2011
"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."
To put it lightly, this was a very powerful, moving book. It had been on my TBR list for a while (since April, really) and a few weeks ago, I put it on hold at the library. After the National Book Award debacle, I decided that instead of waiting for the library for the book, I would just purchase it myself and try to support Ms. Myracle a little more. I grabbed it from the local bookstore and devoured it this week. Shine moved me a lot more than I was expecting. I knew I would like it, but I didn't realize just how much.
First of all, I loved the voice and tone of the novel. Ms. Myracle wrote the story from the point of view of Cat, the main character, and the whole novel is told in her voice. It was so authentic and really just made the book that much more real and believable. I talk about voice all the time with my English students and think excerpts from this book would make great mentor texts for their own writing. I could so easily imagine a sixteen year old girl from a small southern town as I was reading, which can really help show how important voice is in writing.
In this story, I think the setting sometimes is just as important as the characters. The small town atmosphere can sometimes be a breeding ground for hatred, especially when someone is hated and persecuted just because he/she is simply different, like Patrick was in Shine. It is so critical for people to understand that that is wrong! There are towns and places like this all over and it is so disheartening and makes me feel sick. While reading this book, I felt so enraged about how people are mistreated and what makes me angrier is that I have seen this play out in my own life. Not to the extent of injuring someone, like Patrick, but in verbal taunts and attitudes.
I will definitely be recommending this book to my students, as I think this kind of persecution is something they need to be aware of and educated about. I wish this could be required reading for our school. What an excellent, thought-provoking, anger-inducing novel. I am absolutely glad that I bought it.