“I’d heard a saying about meth, that it took you down one of three roads: jail, the psych ward, or death.”
– Shine by Lauren Myracle
Shine first came on my radar with the drama over The National Book Award debacle, where Lauren Myracle was accidentally nominated and asked to back out. The synopsis intrigued me, so I finally picked this book up.
Shine is the story of Cat, a teenaged girl on the journey for answers when her former best friend, Patrick is the victim of an extremely violent hate crime. Along the way she learns the dark secrets and hidden realities of the town she lives in.
This books starts off brilliantly, there is a certain atmospheric writing style that Myrcale uses that just brings you in to the world of the story. You very quickly learn the life that Cat leads.The setting, Black Creek, North Carolina is a back woods town with a lot of backwards thinking. One of the biggest problems plaguing the town is meth.
There are a lot of rich characters in the novel and you start to feel for them. This reminds me very much of To Kill a Mockingbird, where the context of the story is so much involved in learning about the people in the town. The only thing is their is no Atticus Finch in this story. None of the characters are particularly redeeming or good, not even Cat herself. I think Robert, an eleven-year-old who was born addicted to drugs and yearns for attention from the older teenagers stood out the most for me.
This is a tough stuff novel, it deals with the less pleasant things in life and if that doesn’t suit you this isn’t the novel for you. One thing I did notice is despite it opening with a hate crime against a gay male this isn’t a book focused on issues in the LBGT community. This book is more about social prejudices, meth and the downward spiral drug use goes.
For me the weakest point in this book is Jason, the love interest for Cat. He added absolutely nothing to the book and he didn’t do anything. He only appears on about 10 pages or so, and the character felt like a waste and he just felt too “convenient”.
I also wans’t a big fan of the ending of this book. The decisions the characters made just didn’t sit well with me or come off as believable.
I can see why this book was nominated for an award and I defiantly think it has a lot of potential for teens to learn from it. I think Lauren Myrcale is an amazing writer and writes about a worth while topic, however overall I had some issues with the story.
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.