Friday, February 18, 2011

ARC Review: Taking a SHINE to Lauren Myracle

The Book: SHINE
The Author: Lauren Myracle
The Publisher: Amulet Books (an Imprint of Abrams Books)
Release Date: May 1, 2011

Summary:
In a small town where everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows everyone else's business, you will find the deepest, darkest well around, one housing secrets and lies of which no one dares speak.  That town is Black Creek, North Carolina, and the secret no one wants known is who brutally beat, tortured, and ultimately left Patrick Truman for dead, his lifeless body tied to a gas pump, the words Suck this, faggot scrawled across his chest and a gas pump nozzle shoved into his mouth.

Until three years ago, Cat and Patrick were the best of friends since they were toddlers, always inseparable.  That is until the summer she turned thirteen when she inexplicably began to withdraw from all of those around her, including Patrick.  For three years, she spoke to no one, instead pushing the ugly--and everything else--away.  Surviving life in the backwoods, redneck town is just so much easier when you're not really there, and she's gotten adept at turning a blind eye to everyone and everything around her.

But now, Patrick is lying in a hospital bed, teetering on the edge of life and death, and Cat can't help but feel like somehow, this is all her fault.  Because in turning her back on the ugly that happened that terrible summer, she blinded herself to the pain her best friend might have been dealing with, growing up gay in among ignorance and intolerance.

Determined to make up for that lost time, Cat sets out to catch the one who attacked Patrick.  But, in tracking down the one responsible, she uncovers the hidden lives of those she thought she'd known best which inevitably leads her to face ugliness of her own past and lay her demons to rest once and for all.

My Take:
SHINE is a haunting journey into the hidden layers of small town life.  Secrets and lies abound.  From the very first sentence, I was hooked.  This is not just the story of hate crime.  It's about friendship and loss, family ties, and the desperate struggle to not only be who you are but be accepting of that.

A girl who survived something so ugly and found that the only way to survive and move on was to fold in on herself and hide in plain sight, Cat's voice rang clear and true for me.  She endured something unspeakable years before Patrick's attack, and the aftermath nearly did her in.  What she was left with was a cold, stone girl, whose only refuge was in solitude.

Patrick--while only really seen in flashbacks--was this bright and shining creature who knew exactly who and what he was, and made no apologies for that fact.  However, being gay was not his defining characteristic.  He was genuinely a good person, making friends easily and truly being accepting of anyone he met.  He was smart, funny, and caring enough to push those he loved onto the right path.

Even the side characters--Christian, Tommy, Beef, DuPree, Bailee-Ann, Gwennie, Robert, and Jason--all had their own uniquely beautiful and flawed layers.  While I had a damned good idea as to who the assailant was almost from the beginning, there were times when I hoped that maybe I was wrong.  I wasn't, but that didn't stop me from being a little shocked when I found out the truth at the end.

In short, SHINE is a searing, complex account of how the actions--or inaction--of others can change life in a moment and the repercussions that will reverberate for years to come.  Definitely a MUST-READ.