Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Oh Shine. You broke my heart, you made me hurt, you entertained me and you basically just sent me through a whole gambit of emotions. And I'm so glad that you did. I didn't know what I was getting into with this novel. I read it as an advanced reader edition not really knowing much about it at all. But it captured me from the get go. Set in rural North Carolina, Shine focuses on a hate crime committed against a young gay teen named Patrick. He's found severely beaten with a gas nozzle stuffed into his mouth and ends up in a coma because of the assault on him. His friend goes to visit him at the hospital and is determined to find out what's happened to him...their relationship was strained before all of this and she needs to make her amends. She has issues with her own past though and they constantly rearise from living in such a small town while trying to figure out what happened to Patrick. This is such a powerful story that talks about so many things that are important, especially to today's youth. In one book, issues of hate crimes, homosexuality, sexism, rape, religion, violence and family are all dealt with. And Myracle paints a picture of small town America which is sadly more relatable than most books out there. And then you have shit like the Wallstreet Journal article out there saying that books like this one are dangerous to young readers. And I can't help but say "really?" A book like this can SAVE a kid. Make them feel like they're not alone. And just maybe it'll help spread some empathy among our youth. I don't think we have to worry about kids reading this and getting any "funny ideas" in their heads. I know there was a lot that I related to in this book. The guise of religion as an outlet to demoralize people, the hatred towards someone just for being different, the vow of silence that so many young victims take because they feel like they should. And I don't mean any of that as a blanket statement. I'm NOT saying that people who are religious are out to demoralize people because I know some AMAZING people who are very religious. But I did grow up in a town where church was the biggest place to get gossip. And it was also a place to instill guilt onto people. And I think this books addresses this very well without being "anti-religious" Bottom line, this was a wonderful book that completely took me by surprise. And to top it off, it's designed so beautifully and I think it has one of the most gorgeous covers I've seen to a book in a long time. The story inside is just as captivating as that cover.

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