I read the ARC of Shine by Lauren Myracle this weekend.
Phew! I survived it. And absolutely loved it. But whoa, it was a roller coaster ride of a book.
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 story is beautifully crafted. But it is also gritty and dark as well as nerve-wracking. I spent the first half of the book incredibly nervous. Shine opens with a news account of a gruesome hate crime – readers should take warning that this will not be a gentle story. Cat is fighting for survival with incredible odds against her. She has to deal with constant reminders of bigotry, sexual abuse, meth addiction, as well as plain and painful poverty.
The voice is incredible – just the right amount of dialect and sensory details to set you firmly in the rough mountains of North Carolina. The writing is flawless and clear – I’d even say hypnotically beautiful – but with an edge of darkness creeping and poking in around the edges of every scene. Somehow David Lynch came to mind…
I seriously think I forgot to breathe in some places. At one point it occurred to me that Cat was probably going to survive, but I also realized there were worse things to worry about than death.
Myracle manages to bring all the many threads together in the end – but not with clean and simple answers – it’s the kind of ending that will lend itself to discussions. I won’t ruin it with spoilers here. I’m not sure I’m completely happy with the ending, but I also think part of my dis-satisfaction stems from a personal ache and yearning that was stirred inside me. I hate that life can be so hard. What I know for sure is that by the time I reached the end, I would have followed Cat anywhere.
A tough, thought-provoking, and incredible story – look for it in April.
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK