Nathan's Reviews > Shine

Shine by Lauren Myracle
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Nov 01, 11

bookshelves: read-in-2011
Read from October 24 to November 01, 2011

Ok, I'll admit it. I'm not one for YA books, but after the National Book Awards nomination gaffe this year I initially looked into Lauren Myracle's SHINE to keep in the loop. Upon learning its topic and intrigued by its relevance to current events in the gay community (bullying, gay-bashing, flavors of the Matthew Shepard case) I decided I should read it.

At first glance, one would think this book centers around Cat's sleuthing out who gay-bashed her childhood best friend Patrick to the point of putting him in a coma and why, but it's not. Cat is a 16 year old introvert who turned in upon herself and turned her back on her friends (most notably, Patrick) 3 years ago after an incident involving one of he brother's friends (Tommy). When Patrick is found outside the gas station where he works, skull bashed in and gas nozzle strapped in his mouth, Cat is jolted back into society (so to speak) with the realization that she still cares deeply for him and the guilt at the wasted 3 years in which she avoided him. Being set in rural, small town North Carolina, Cat knows the local authorities will likely give up their investigation of the case given Patrick's homosexuality so she decides to become a detective and figure it out on her own--she owes Patrick as much for all the years they lost at her doing.

So, the actual takeaway of the book? Simple (yet equally important)--coming to grips with navigating one's own awkward teen years, dealing with a trauma so personal it can cause you to shut down, and forcing yourself to shine through (see what I did there?) the contstraints of your community and be the better person because of it. Yes, Patrick's assault is the crux of the mystery, but it serves more to carry you through the tale and help you learn with Cat just exactly why she pushed everyone away and figure out the best path to take out of her own closed walls.

I only have a couple issues with the characters, though. Cat's Sherlock-esque detective work was just a little *too* skilled for a 16 year old girl in backwoods North Carolina. And while 11 year old Robert suffers from ADHD and has never been taught proper social norms, I found his over-the-top brashness and complete lack of fear in the face of grave danger a bit unbelievable.

All that said, I believe this is a very good and important book. It's current, well-crafted, easily relatable to both boys and girls, and will certainly help bring about discussions of its content--discussions that need to happen.
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10/24/2011 page 48
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