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- Why I read it: The South, LGBTQ, hype
- Disclosure: Received an e-galley from the publisher via NetGalley.
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.Certain folks have started calling Lauren Myracle the next Judy Blume, and I don't think they're wrong. Everything, from her nuanced characterization to her lush settings to her simultaneously simple, original, and brilliant plots, speaks of YA that will be remembered for many years to come. I read my first Myracle book, Ttyl, just before I read Shine, and thought both were startling in their grasp of teen life. Objectively, I thought both were excellent. Subjectively, however, neither did as much for me as they should have, and I'm still trying to figure out why.
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.
Which is not to say you shouldn't read her work, especially Shine. The book was fierce, gritty, timely, and riveting. While I wasn't in love with Cat as a narrator, I thought Myracle told her story with a lot of heart, and I always love seeing the people of the real South, impoverished and hurting and not all old money and Southern Belles, get a voice. Every twist seemed to come out of nowhere, and yet in hindsight made perfect sense, as in all of the best mysteries. And the ending: there aren't words to describe the punch in the gut of the ending.
It's just that neither...stuck. Neither of them were turned over and over in my brain like all my favorite stories are. I read it, I enjoyed it, and that was that. The end of the story was the end of the story for me, and I can't help but feel a little confused and cheated as to why.
Still, while it's not a personal favorite of mine, I couldn't recommend it more highly to friends, libraries, and random strangers. I loved the way Myracle handled homophobia and bullying, and also the tricky issues of religion and classism, which is not something I see YA tackle often. I can't wait for her next releases, and hope I enjoy them more in the future! Four and a half out of five stars.