For sixteen year old Cat, poverty, sexism, and homophobia are front and center in her life. When her childhood best friend is put in the hospital from a hate crime, Cat knows that the town’s police won’t be willing to look where they need to. In order to find her friend’s attacker she’s going to have to face the darkness in her town and in herself.
Shine isn’t one of those books that you can’t put down because of cliff hanger endings to chapters or other tricks of the trade. Shine is the kind of book that you don’t want to put down because you care about what happens next. You care about the characters and you care about the town and you care about whether or not there is a happy ending because somehow you find yourself believing that if there can be a happy ending here then maybe a happy ending isn’t so far off for the world.
Contemporary is probably my least explored genre. Generally, what I have read I’ve enjoyed, but so much in the contemporary genre depends on the writing and the characters. Yes, plot and pacing are still important, but I find that contemporary novels seem to focus quite a bit on the interior journey of the character and a bit less on the exterior journey. Normally, the exterior journey is more enthralling to me: I like the wizard going up against a Hungarian Horntail and the group of children fighting and killing for their lives because it’s exciting. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a well-written internal journey, especially when it touches on some really important modern themes.
Cat’s journey was more important to me than figuring out who had attacked her best friend. Her interaction with other characters had me glued to the pages. Her struggle with what had happened to her and those who had witnessed it and done nothing. It was raw and it was real. It’s a really difficult book to talk about for this reason. Even though it’s been a week or so since I read it, I still feel like I’m digesting it. It’s definitely the kind of book that lingers in your mind.
Books with similar aspects
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
recommended to those who enjoy themes to do with sex, gender, and social justice.
not recommended to those who can’t handle violent or emotionally charged scenes.
Don’t just take my word for it!
“I wish this could be required reading for our school. What an excellent, thought-provoking, anger-inducing novel.” Kyle @ A Reader’s Pensieve