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.Read more...
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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-03-14
- Reviewer: Staff
Cat has been distant from childhood best friend Patrick for three years (she began to "ignore the whole world" after an older friend of her brother's molested her). Even so, when a horrific and possible hate crime leaves openly gay Patrick comatose, she decides to "look straight into the ugliness and find out who hurt him." She grows suspicious of her brother's friends, "the redneck posse," who were with Patrick the night of his attack—especially as she learns they are keeping dangerous secrets, including dealing and using meth. Myracle (Bliss) paints the desperate poverty and bitter divisions within Cat's mountain community well, with memorable details like a friend coloring the duct tape patches on her couch to match the fabric or a meth cooker's bathtub filled with funnels and coffee filters. These details and the thick mystery that Cat unfurls will keep readers engaged—and suspecting several characters, as Cat does. The final faceoff strains believability and the conclusion is a tad neat, but readers will find themselves thinking about Cat's complicated rural community long after the mystery has been solved. Ages 14–up. (May)
Dark mystery in an idyllic country setting
Shine is the story of a hate crime, or so it seems. Cat’s dear friend Patrick has been savagely beaten and left in a coma, and everyone in town knows it’s because he’s gay. But no one, including the sheriff, knows what actually happened—so Cat makes it her mission to find the attacker herself. This is serious stuff, and author Lauren Myracle doesn’t shy away from the tough emotions her characters face: “Why does God let bad things happen?” Cat wonders in anguish. “Could he not see her, or did he not care?”
Beyond the strife and violence, Shine is also a Southern story, a country story, refreshingly regional amid a sea of novels set in suburban Anywhere, USA. Black Creek, North Carolina, is a tiny village of 500, idyllic in setting but isolated, and with more than its share of poverty and problems. Myracle gets in all the details: the beauty of the woods and the comfort of home cooking, but also the drug use that threatens the community, and the embarrassed anger Cat feels at being thought of as a hillbilly by the people in town.
In becoming a small-town sleuth, Cat not only solves the mystery of the night her friend was attacked, but also confronts pain from her own past she hasn’t yet dealt with. She has an essential sweetness—and a bit of sass—that make her a winning main character. But the novel’s ending, while satisfying, has the main characters perpetuating a lie, which feels strange after so much truth-seeking. All in all, though, this is an engaging story with characters who really come to life.