I am so excited to review this book. I first read it about six months ago when I received an advance copy at a literature symposium, and I finished it in one night because I couldn’t put it down. After I finished, I went up to the author, who was speaking at the symposium, to say, “Oh my gosh, my grandma has those same exact glasses from Hardee’s that you describe in the book!”
Lauren Myracle’s Shine is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story set in the fictional town of Black Creek, North Carolina. The description is spot-on for small mountain towns in North Carolina, probably because that’s the same area where Myracle grew up. Even though yours truly is from Eastern North Carolina, I went to college in one of those small mountain towns, and as I read this book, I kept thinking to myself, “That is so true!” and “I know someone like this character!” and “This place sounds just like a real place I know!” Shine is so true to life that it leaps off the page, at least for someone who recognizes the people and places as being familiar.
Sadly, that also means the description of the book’s tragic events is also real. REAL and breathing. What happens in the book happens in reality, and Myracle doesn’t pull any punches. Everything that happens in Shine stems from the newspaper clipping at the beginning of the book. Patrick is beaten and left for dead outside of the convenience store where he works nights. Patrick is seventeen. Patrick is gay. But the book isn’t about Patrick, really. It’s about his former best friend, Cat, who vows she will find the person who did this to Patrick, since the sheriff clearly wasn’t making the effort. Cat’s detective work dredges up secrets of addiction, drug distribution, alcoholism, and sexual assault. Clearly, this is not a book for the faint of heart, but it is for anyone who is not scared by life’s realities, however horrifying they might be.
I seriously can’t recommend this book enough. This is my absolute favorite Lauren Myracle book yet.
– Heather Botelho, South Branch Library