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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shine is about a girl trying to solve a crime: An openly gay teen has been severely beaten (leaving him in a coma), and a slur was written on his chest in blood. Characters in the poor mountain community face other difficulties: The protagonist describes being sexually assaulted by an older boy, and when she continues her investigation into the beating, she's threatened with a cow tongue on her pillow. There are also descriptions of the community's intense poverty, where there's also plenty of meth dealing. Expect mature language throughout the book, including hate speech. At least one character is secretly gay.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After Cat's entranged best friend, Patrick, is badly beaten and left in a coma, she's determined to find out what happened to him. Was it a hate crime against the openly gay teen? But as she questions potential suspects and other friends and acquaintances, she learns all kinds of secrets about her rural mountain community, including that many of her friends are involved in using and selling meth. She also finds a cow's tongue left on her bed -- a brutal attempt to get her to stop her search.
Is it any good?
The author of SHINE vividly captures the details of Cat's impoverished community. It's there in the dialogue, but also in the cigarette burns on the carpet, the colored-in duct tape on the couch, and the junk food the characters eat, even when suffering from diabetes. Readers might find the cinematic conclusion a bit overdone, but they'll appreciate the mystery's many turns -- and root for the loyal Cat, who wants justice for her brave friend. The details of Patrick's beating, gritty language, and other mature details make this a better fit for older teens who will get the most out of this important story. There's plenty to discuss here about tolerance, poverty in America, drug abuse, and more.
Shine made the 2102 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults list compiled by the the Young Adult Library Services Association (a division of the American Library Association).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about award-winning books. Shine was mistakenly nominated for a National Book Award, and the author ultimately withdrew from the competition. How important are awards to you? Why do you think they might be important to authors -- and publishers?
What is Shine's message about tolerance -- and the fear that many gay kids grow up with? How realistic do you think her book is?
What's special about the setting that Myracle creates here? Is it one that we see very often in the media? What details stick out the most for you? Do you have hope for Cat, Patrick, or the other characters in Black Creek?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.