Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shine by Lauren Myracle

What You Need to Know:  This amazing modern southern-gothic mystery is one of the best books of 2011.

Summary: Once upon a time, Cat was best friends with Patrick.  Now Patrick lies in a coma, the victim of a hate crime.  Although nobody in the small North Carolina town of Black Creek wants to look too hard for the criminal, Cat takes it upon herself to find out who hurt Patrick.  While local law enforcement looks for an outsider, Cat feels sure the victim lies a lot closer to home.  Along the way, Cat will have to come out of her self imposed exile, and face the issues she's been ignoring.

What Worked:  When I finished this book, my reaction was:  "Damn, Lauren Myracle could win the Printz."   A vibrant setting, timely issues, tight plotting, compelling characters, and polished writing -- this book hits all of the award criteria. 

For me, the best thing about the book was the setting.  The small, rural town of Black Creek, which is slowly dying, although nobody wants to admit it.  Cat is such a product of this place, she knows it like nothing else, so she is naturally the one to solve the mystery of who attacked Patrick.  Also, Myracle nails Cat's voice, a girl longing to break free of her small world, but not really seeing a way out, who feels a debt to someone she abandoned.

For once, I felt like the romance elements of the book were organic and well intergrated.  As much as this is a mystery, it's also Cat's coming of age.  Finding someone to connect with is part of that journey. 

What Didn't:  The ending is going to leave some readers (me) unhappy.  Without getting too spoilery, lets just say that the crime is solved.  Is the criminal brought to justice?  Well, that depends.  The choice made at then end is made honestly, but left me feeling cold.   

Who would I give this book to?  With Myracle's name on the cover, this book isn't going to require much selling.  However, I can see it appealing to teens with an interest in GLBTQ issues, and mystery fans.

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