Monday, May 9, 2011

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Shine by Lauren Myracle
16-year-old Cat lives in Black Creek, a poverty-stricken town in North Carolina. Two years earlier, one of her brother's friends sexually assaulted her, and she's shut out the world and her friends since. She even shut out her best friend Patrick, with whom she used to spend nearly every waking minute. Then Patrick is brutally attacked in a hate crime, and Cat must face the demons of her past to help bring his attacker(s) to justice.

When trying to write this review, I really tried to avoid overused descriptors like "gritty," "raw," and "profound," but those words really do describe this book. There are so many issues that are addressed in this book that it could have gone horribly wrong - homosexuality, poverty, religious intolerance, discrimination, sexual assault, drug abuse. But it didn't. Lauren Myracle masterfully addresses these issues through the perspective of a character who is strong, unique, and oh-so-vulnerable. It's Cat who makes the story real and believable.

The small town setting plays a crucial role in this book, and at times, I felt as if I was stepping into the town where I spent my childhood. From the gossipy neighbors to the intolerance that still seems to permeate some areas, any other setting would have done this book injustice. Without writing in dialect (which is super difficult and often done poorly), Lauren Myracle added touches that made the small town setting believable, such as having Cat's aunt exclaim things like, "Holy creamed corn."

Cat's character is spunky, strong, and inspiring, and the story is thrilling up to the very end.  Highly recommended.

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Reading level: Young Adult | Publisher: Amulet Books (May 1, 2011) | ISBN-13: 978-0810984172 | Source: NetGalley ARC

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