4 stars · fiction · young adult

Shine by Lauren Myracle


Author: Lauren Myracle

Pages [hardcover]: 376

First Thoughts: I’ve loved every book of Lauren Myracle’s that I’ve read, and I’m curious to see if I enjoy her writing as much in this drastically more serious novel. Plus, the cover is positively gorgeous!

Memorable Quote:
It’s unfair how the kids who are starving for attention tended to be so annoying that people had no inclination to give it to them.

Favorite Characters: Robert & Patrick


When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice. Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.


 I’ve read other novels by Lauren Myracle, but nothing like this before. Books like TTYL and TTFN are easy and fun to read, while Shine takes on a sharper edge, diving deep into a small North Carolina town, where a hate crime against a gay teenager can both rip those who live there apart and make them want to shield their eyes against the fact that anything could possibly have happened.

I think this book shows how there can be two sides of people: The side everything sees and acknowledges, and the more hidden part, that few, if any, ever get to experience. It’s this secret side that can be either dangerous or saving, depending on the person. And as Cat delves into the past and investigates this crime, she learns this just as the reader does.

The plot did drag a bit, taking a long time to follow Cat’s investigation and build up the storyline. I did like how the extra time gave emphasis to things like the setting, different characters, and the significance of what was going on, as well as how it built suspense. But it also made it easy for me to lose interest, and choose to read another book instead of continuing with this. Just a personal preference, but I tend to go for faster paced novels.

Shine was still beautifully written, dragging me into the setting and pulling me along while Cat tries to find the truth behind Patrick’s attack. I didn’t really know what would happen until the end, and even then things continued to surprise me. I loved how it wasn’t predictable, and really made me consider the awful things that even the most unlikely people are capable of. I give Shine 4/5 stars.

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