I read this book slowly (and most of you know that is not my style at all; I tend to inhale books). This book demanded that I take my time, that I pause and reflect, that I give it time. And so, even though I finished the reading a couple of weeks ago, the book has patiently waited for me to try to find the right words to convey to you so that you will pre-order the book and read it and talk to me and the others who are dying to talk more about this book.
Like all of Myracle's books, SHINE is marked with a distinctive VOICE. Particularly noteworthy here is the DICTION that gives readers an intimate introduction to the setting of this story, to the town to its residents, and to the horror that hides beneath a very thin veneer of Southern gentility. As Cat recalls a new memory from her childhood, confronts an ugly truth, she tries to face the lies and face them down. She slowly uncovers even more nastiness that lurks and bubbles and threatens to upset the uneasy balance that has been her life to date. Cat is impatient to learn the truth but is excruciating as it unfolds. This sense of the inexorable is conveyed clearly to the reader. In part, I think, it is what slowed me down. Like Cat, I needed to consider what each new revelation might mean.
The other piece that slowed my reading was the fact that I was dogearing pages and marking passages. I was reading this one as though I were serving on a selection committee. Looking at the basic building blocks: syllables to sentences to paragraphs to chapters. The language, well, it just sings and stings and slings. Here is one example:
"One tear, shiny as a dewdrop, rolled down her cheek and splopped onto her foot (did you see that verb there?), washing the dust of the day from that one spot. Her flip flops were pink with white polka dots, and now one of the polka dots was brighter than the others." (page 201)
What an image. Just one of many from the book. The characters are carefully crafted. Some are pure evil, reminiscent of Cormier. Others are neither good nor evil but just human and real. Some change. Sometimes Cat's take on them change. I felt as though I knew them all by the end of the book. I can tell you that no one is quite what he or she seems to be.
Why the title, SHINE? There is a wonderful reference to the hymn, "this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine." I'd like to think this is the reference being made. Cat shines her little light, the light that brings forth the truth, in this shining example of the best YA can offer.