Shine by Lauren Myracle

ShineShine by Lauren Myracle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the town of Black Creek, North Carolina a high school boy is brutally attacked outside of the gas station where he worked. The attack is considered a hate crime. Patrick is gay. For Cat—the girl who was once Patrick’s best friend—the attack leaves her feeling guilty. She’d turned her back on their friendship several years earlier because of her own secret, and now that Patrick is lying in a coma in a hospital, she’s determined to find out the truth.
Shine is the story of Cat’s journey toward uncovering a town mystery. But in setting out to discover who attacked Patrick, she also rediscovers herself. She turned her back on Patrick and her other friends because she couldn’t face the truth about what happened to her. It was easier to keep her shame a secret, just as it was easier for Patrick to keep his own secret. What happened to him is blamed on gay-bashing out-of-towners, but Cat knows her town too well, and within her own circle of friends and family are a myriad of anti-gay voices.
Shine plays out like a typical mystery novel—a protagonist in search of clues, interviewing locals, digging up secrets, eavesdropping on conversations. But there were times when I felt like this aspect of the story was written in a way that would appeal more to a middle grade audience rather than young adult (where I felt like I was reading a super sleuth detective series). However, Myracle’s use of language and the degree of content (sex, language, violence) are reasons why Shine should not be considered anything less than young adult. The mix of Cat’s “super sleuthing” and her burden of trying to understand the very adult nature of what happened to her (and to what happened to Patrick) left me feeling like I should have been reading two very different novels.
Myracle does a nice job of describing the people and places of the deep North Carolina backwoods, especially through the dialog between the characters. And the mystery of what happened to Patrick kept me turning the pages. I just couldn’t completely connect with Cat’s character—some moments, she was the 16-year-old girl struggling with the harsh reality of life (of her own pain and that of Patrick’s), and other times, she was a little kid on a mission to solve a town mystery, but a mystery much less harrowing than a boy severely beaten for being gay.

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