Shine by Lauren Myracle – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

When Patrick is found strung to the pump of the local gas station, sixteen-year-old Cat emerges from her self-imposed exile to avenge the horrors inflicted on her former best friend. The local sheriff is ready to pin the crime on out-of-towners, but Cat’s suspicions lie elsewhere. Despite ominous warnings to leave it be, Cat finds the will – fuelded by the fury borne of an old injustice – to expose the homegrown hatred that gave rise to Patrick’s attack.

Myracle has crafted a searing coming-of-age story: an exploration of loss, guilt, and fear fused inseparably with a tale of courage, resiliency, and love.


Shine bowled me over, knocked my socks off, and left me breathless. I was hooked from the first few pages and I’m still thinking about it, days after I finished the book. This is truly a fantastic story.

The character work in this book is astounding. Layered, complex, and flawed human beings populate Cat’s small town from top to bottom, including Cat herself. Cat’s two years of hiding away from everything and everyone give this story an absolutely wrenching and fascinating perspective – as she investigates, Cat is dealing with people she knows, people she grew up with, and yet after two years away, Cat is now seeing them with new eyes, and her childhood understanding of who these people are crumbles before her. Myracle shows us the facades, through Cat’s memories, and then takes us beneath them – plumbing the strange and unsettling depths of who these people actually are. This entire book is a series of brilliant character studies, as even the minor characters have complicated personalities – and any one of them could have been involved in what happened to Patrick. And so Cat resumes her place in the world, seeking the ugly side of human nature and discovering it is all too easy to find in this town she thought she knew. Either it all changed, or she did – enough to finally see what was always there.

The small town stew of bigotry, poverty, and drug addiction adds wonderful layers to this story, but let me be absolutely clear – this is not an issue book, a sermon, or a public service announcement. This is a authentic story about rural small town southern life, in all its painful glory. It’s not pretty and it’s not easy, and Myracle really brings home the socio-economic realities of a community that has nowhere to go but down. This story isn’t pointing fingers and it isn’t making a point – it’s just telling it like it is, painting a wonderfully dense and lush portrait of a small town. The closest I can come to describing this book is it’s like Justified, if the show was told from Loretta’s point of view.

I came to this book for the mystery, and it did not disappoint – the whodunit was well paced and intriguing, though I did get a tad ahead of it at the end – but I had no idea just how much more there was to this story. There is ugliness, and beauty; hope and despair. Cat finds in herself the courage and will to face the worst of people, in order to bring out the best in herself. This book is a coming of age, a search for the truth, and a hard look at the terrible power of things left unsaid. And did I ever love it.

I find myself hoping that schools will teach this book, because Shine is simply the most fascinating YA story about a hate crime I have ever read. It employs brutal clarity in getting to the heart of how such an awful act can come to pass, and yet it never crosses over into being sensational or salacious. This story is gritty, honest, and delivers a good, hard kick that will nail you where you live. Holy crap this is a good book.

Shine is simply stupendous. You really need to read it.

Byrt Grade: A+

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Kate Messner says:

This is a powerful page-turner that shines a painful light on the hopelessness and bigotry festering in one small town in rural America. From a reader’s point of view, I was hooked on this YA novel from the first page. It’s as compelling a mystery as I’ve ever read, and the last third of the book so had me turning pages so fast my family stopped reading their own books to stare.

First Novels Club says:

Myracle did what is so hard for so many writers to do–she wrote a book about hard issues without trying to directly teach readers a lesson or have the plot feel didactic. Even our protagonist, Cat, has moments of seeing things both ways, which adds another level and deeper thought to the two main issues happening in Black Creek: the hate crime committed against Cat’s friend Patrick, and the drug use that runs through the town…This book gave me chills. Like I said before, it’s an INTENSE book. I definitely needed a breather after finishing it.

Bookwormy Girl says:

I was worried that I wasn’t going to enjoy a story touching on so many sensitive subjects (i.e. hate crimes, racism, substance and sexual abuse, etc). Nonetheless from the first moment I heard Cat’s voice I was captivated….All in all, Shine packs a hard punch. It was an intense, emotional, tear inducing journey – but one that I am so glad I took. It realistically captures and explores issues like sexuality, rape, prejudice, violence and addiction. It was dark, it was raw, it was captivating.  Read it!