I am quite embarrassed that it took me until now to read Shine by Lauren Myracle. Oh you know this book…the one that was short-listed for the National Book Award, then the author was told the committee member was mistaken and meant to call Frank Billingsly who wrote Chime, then the judges said “Oh geez nevermind, we’ll keep it on the list”, but Myracle was dignified enough to take her own book off of the list, resulting in the National Book Foundation giving the Matthew Shephard Foundation a $5,000 donation. You know…that book.
Yeah, it took me a year to read it. This is one of those *facepalm* moments because the book was quite good and I am sad I didn’t meet Cat until now. But alas, I have met her…and I am so glad I did. More than that, I am glad my fiance met her. You see, I listened to this book on audio and fiance was nice enough to let me turn it on during a recent trip to Williamsburg. And he listened. And he tsked at the language, and cursed after Cat’s retelling of a horrible, horrible event. And that was (finally, after 3 years!) my opening to help fiance understand the power of YA literature. I related Cat’s situation to that of thousands of girls and women every year. The reality, the dark, painful reality. And I explained to him that, if a girl who had endured that same pain met Cat through Myracle’s novel, then maybe she could learn to speak up for herself, as Cat did. Or, it would give a girl the words to speak to her best friend, who also endured that reality. Or, it would open a man’s eyes to the horrible acts that women live in fear of.
The book follows Cat, a teenager who fights a meth dealer, a bigot, a molester, and her own fears to find out who brutally beat her former best friend, Patrick. Patrick is gay, and the attack was deemed a hate crime by the sheriff, deemed “a shame” by the townspeople, and poorly investigated due to the laziness of the sheriff. Cat, whose own history with abuse led her into a shell three years prior, slowly crawls out of it in order to fight for Patrick, since he wasn’t able to fight for himself.
I loved everyone who said yes to the world and tried to make it better instead of worse, because so much in the world was ugly- and just about all the ugly parts were due to humans.
Some of the scenes are graphic. There is drug use. Sexual abuse. But it’s real. This is real life for some teenagers, and that is what is so powerful about Myracle’s novel. It has the ability to heal, to put words to pain, to transform a closed mind to an open one. This book, though a bit simplistic in the mystery area, has more layers than most adult detective novels. This is one to read, award-winner or not.