Shine by Lauren Myracle
Amulet Books, May 1, 2011
Summary from Goodreads:
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.Confession: this is the first novel I've read by Lauren Myracle. I've been aware of her, of course, but ttyl, l8rg8tr, and Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks have never managed to make it onto my to-read lists. When I read about Shine, I suspected it would be a good book to start with, and I was right.
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.
Shine is a powerful novel of small-town secrets and prejudices. Cat is a naively sweet 16 year old girl who, three years ago, suddenly withdraws from all of her friends. This includes her best friend Patrick, now in a coma in the hospital as the result of a vicious hate crime. Cat decides that she must put her own tragic past behind her and start speaking to people. The local police are content to shove Patrick's case under a rug, and Cat knows that she is the only one who cares enough to find out who attacked him.
Lauren Myracle has created an impressive cast of character with this novel. Besides Cat and Patrick (who we really only see in flashbacks), Cat's friends, family, and fellow townspeople round out the cast. While Patrick does not hide the fact that he's gay, and most people are polite enough to him, behind his back most people, even his so-called friends, have awful things to say about him. It was disheartening to read Shine and realize that even today, in 2011, there are small towns like this all over the world, where people feel qualified to judge others, and will excuse the most heinous acts because of their beliefs. Ugh.
And let's not forget about Cat. At first I really didn't like her. It's strange that in her entire small town, she alone was blind to everything going on (and there's a LOT going on in this town!). She seemed much younger than her 16 years. But, as I read more about her, including what happened to her three years ago, I began to understand her naivete more. Socially, she's shut herself off from all of society; of course she's not going to have any idea what's going on! And I certainly can't say that I blamed her for shutting herself off; the bad thing was bad enough, but the immediate reactions of her family were just absolutely horrendous. I don't want to give too much away, but her family's reaction amazes me.
Cat certainly has her hands full with trying to find Patrick's attacker, especially once she realizes that most of the people in her town are hiding some kind of secret. It's funny how small towns can still have big problems, and this town has them all. I enjoyed this story; sadly, as I've said, it really hammered home for me that there's still a lot of intolerance in the world.
While this may have been my first Lauren Myracle book, I know it won't be my last. Jo Knowles (author of Lessons From a Dead Girl--you know, on my MAHROAT list?) has recommended Bliss, and I plan to check that out soon!
eGalley received from publisher.
Enjoy your reading!