Shine ~ Lauren Myracle
In the hills of North Carolina, natural beauty abounds. Unfortunately, human ugliness is not far under the pristine surface. The backwater hamlet of Black Creek boasts a small town atmosphere and the backward facing thinking that keeps hatred and ignorance alive in the hearts of so many.
When a well-liked, yet scandalously out, high schooler Patrick ends up beaten and tied up, one night, the town is thrown in to upheaval. Some take up the cause, in one direction or another. Most prefer to keep it buried both the actual crime and the victim’s own sexuality, preferring to keep the old elephant in the living room swept under the rug.
His only champion, long-estranged Cat, charges herself with his justice and vengeance as he, himself, lies unconscious in the hospital. Avoiding ghosts of terrors past and snaking through the town’s insecurities, Cat finds herself uncovering more than she set out to.
One part thriller, one part psycho drama, one part melodrama and one big part extensive emotional latticework, Myracle does more than simply shed light on today’s rash of anti-queer crimes. Most of the book is not about the town’s homophobia as it is about the causes of the fear and hatred that are bound to drive any crime of such a nature.
Riddled with the fallout effects of a crashed economy, Black Creek is almost a textbook map of crime, addiction and violence when things turn ugly and turn ugly fast. Each of the players in the town’s story are inherently good, at heart, but have lived with life’s rainy days far too long.
The most admirable thing about the characters portrayed in the book is the goodness in the bad. Though there are rough spots around every corner, those spots started out with hearts of gold and good intentions. Myracle would also have the reader believe that when there was once a good beginning, there is hope for better days ahead if set on the right path.
Though tough to read on account of the hatred and hard stuff, the book is well worth reading, especially for teens and parents of teens who aren’t always able to see a way to a brighter side of things.