Myracle, Lauren. Shine. 376 p. Amulet Books. 2011. Hardcover $16.95. ISBN 9780810984172.
I couldn't put down this book about an innocent, small-town girl determined to solve the hate crime that victimized her estranged childhood best friend. The richly authentic Southern setting drew me in, and I loved the way the author structured the mystery around the main character's journey of discovery, as she finds surprising strength within herself and learns to see others in a new way.
Heavy issues such as drug use, homophobia, and abuse are faced with unflinching honesty, but there is a sense of warmth, too, and optimism. I could absolutely hear the Southern accents in the dialogue, and I have to say, Southern accents always endear a book to me. The characters are layered and the pacing is excellent, with a gradual increase in tension leading to an edge-of-your-seat pivotal scene once the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place. An intense and satisfying read.
Shine was the first book I've read by Lauren Myracle, having only read a few of her short stories in the past. Let me tell you, this book makes me want to go out and read all of her books! Oh, and can I brag? I had the opportunity to meet her briefly at ALA Midwinter earlier this month, and she was such a doll! Funny, friendly, and just as awesome as you would imagine.
Shine hits bookshelves on May 1, 2011. ARC provided by the publisher.