Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Review: Shine by Lauren Myracle

Title: Shine
Author: Lauren Myracle
Publisher: Abrams
Release Date:  May 1, 2011
Rating: 2/5

Cover Impressions: 
I do not understand this cover.  Perhaps I missed something, but it doesn't appear to have anything to do with the story held within.  Don't get me wrong, it is pretty, but I like my covers to at least give a hint at what is inside. 

The Gist:
Cat's former best friend is subjected to a vicious beating.  It is clear from the nature of the crime that this is a hate crime, perpetrated because Patrick is gay.  It also becomes very clear that the local law enforcement has no clue, and little desire to get to the bottom of it.  But Cat is determined to bring the guilty party to justice and starts asking questions, of her neighbors, her former friends, even her own brother.  Cat's investigation threatens to reveal the deep seeded secrets of the town and to put her own life in danger. 


I spent the last several days just trying to wrap my head around Shine.  I originally chose it for my student book club because I thought it would be a great mystery with some contemporary issues thrown in for good measure.  I had no idea (and was actually rather taken aback by) how dark it was.  I remember thinking at several points "this situation could not possibly get more sad" and then it did.  Over and over again.  It seemed that, in this entire town, there did not exist one stable family.  All of the characters were remarkably broken in some way, and often in several ways.

Our main character, Cat, is being raised by an overbearing aunt and an absentee, alcoholic father.  Several years ago, she had a life-altering experience that caused her to drop all of her friends and retreat into herself and her books.  I liked Cat, but I never really felt like I connected with her.  Other than one traumatic experience in her past and the fact that she loves to read (though I dispute the legitimacy of this claim as her favorite book is the cliched To Kill A Mockingbird), I don't really feel like I know anything about her.  Likewise, with many of the other characters.  I actually had difficulty keeping many of them straight as they all seemed to blend together.  I felt no chemistry between Cat and the love interest and he was probably the most bland character of all.  

The main storyline of Shine starts off very mysterious and the details behind Patrick's assault are heartbreaking.  I was on board for about the first quarter of the book, and then, once a hint or two was dropped, it was very easy to see where the story would be going.  It then became frustrating as I waited for Kat to catch up to what I had already figured out.  I kept waiting for some plot twist that would prove me wrong, but it never came.  What did come was a final quarter of the book that was remarkably preachy and provided forgiveness for child molesters and no real sense of justice for an unspeakably cruel crime.  In the end, the evils of drug use were used to explain away heinous behavior and nothing changed for the town, or the people in it - least of all Patrick

Teaching/Parental Notes:

16 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Child Abuse, Rape, Extreme Violence and Homophobia, Gunplay
Inappropriate Language: Bitch, Dyke, Cock, Bastard, Pussy, Shit, Piss, Slut, Nigger, Fucking, Queer, Faggot
Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Meth Use, Marijuana Use, Alcoholism


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