Lauren Myracle Shine
376 pp. Amulet Books (ABRAMS) 2011 ISBN: 978-0-809-8417-2
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Source: Received ARC from Paul W. Hankins (Thank you, Paul!)
Summary (From the publisher): 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.
This is the first book I’ve read by Lauren Myracle and it has me wowed! I love her writing, her honesty, her voice. I don’t know of many books that address hate crimes in the same way as Myracle does. She doesn’t hold back how horrendous it is, but she writes it without being overly graphic. I knew what happened to Patrick, but I felt more pain and grief because of how Cat was reacting to the hate crime.
As much as I love strong characters, I’m even more impressed when an author creates a strong setting. It’s easy to visualize Cat’s town and home. What really cemented my vision of Cat’s house was when Cat was describing her living room and mentioned the “coffee table” which is really a cinder block table. Pretty much the entire town is poor, and it’s evident from Cat’s descriptions of home and how she describes her friends and neighborhood. I often found myself thinking of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird while reading Shine. The town, the people, and the hate all run parallel to one another. My freshmen are starting TKaM in a few weeks, and I plan on recommending Shine to my students. I look forward to the comparisons they’re able to make. I loved reading To Kill a Mockingbird when I was in school and I love teaching it even more. Scout has always been my favorite character, and Cat is very much how I imagine a more grown up Scout to be.
Myracle did a fantastic job drawing the reader into the mystery of who attacked Patrick. I wanted to figure it out just as much as Cat did. Most of the time I was on the same page as her and was agreeing with her on who did it. But after a while, my suspicions changed and my new guess ended up being correct. But even though I figured it out, I was still on the edge of my seat as the truth unfolded.
If you’re looking for a book that will tug at your heart and resonate with you for some time, pick up Shine by Lauren Myracle.