April 15, 2011

Accept yourself and SHINE

When I headed down to Orlando, I took a few books to keep me company during the car ride. I read Trapped on the way down, and I read Shine on the way home. I could not put this book down. I found the plot and the characters absolutely captivating.

Lauren Myracle introduces readers into a world that many can never imagine. A world that steps beyond the "backwoods" of America and into the front door of that life. This novel is an important contribution to teen literature for many reasons. I expect to see this on school reading lists in the future.

My Thoughts:
Cat is a typical teenager with dreams of a life better than what she is living. She hides behind books because she allows herself to be afraid of those around her. Of course, there is a logical reason for it - a reason that unfolds nicely in the plot. When her childhood friend, Patrick, is attacked and a possible victim of a hate crime, Cat decides it is time to become a part of life again...and to investigate what really happened. Along the way she discovers another element to her "backwoods" life that leads to dangers she never dreamed, and to a discovery that not only endangers herself but also those around her. 
At the heart of this story is self-discovery and true friendship. Cat is lost, she's been lost for three years. It takes Patrick's attack to bring her back to life. But when she discovers who she really is, who Patrick really is, she finds peace within her soul.

Myracle presents the life of backwoods America from Cat's point-of-view, but we also learn of life from the church hall gossips to the meth dealer as well. She spared no expense in this novel - it is real, it is raw. Myracle also creates a solid mystery for readers. For avid mystery readers, the clues will be easy for you to decipher, but the point of the novel isn't the mystery, it serves only as a vehicle for its message. The plot is solid; the characters are solid; the message is clear. 

I would recommend this novel to everyone, especially teens. The book opens the eyes to tolerance, or in this case intolerance, and acceptance not only of those around you but of yourself as well. When you do not accept who you are, you become your own worst enemy - an enemy that can turn on yourself, your beliefs, your friends. Allow yourself to be free to Shine.