Thursday, November 3, 2011

Myracle’s New Book “Shines”

When the National Book Foundation called Lauren Myracle to tell her that her book "Shine" (Amulet Books, 2011) was a finalist for the National Book Award in the Young People's Literature category, she was surprised--and thrilled. A short time later, in an unprecedented move, the Foundation added a sixth finalist, Franny Billingsley's "Chime" (Dial Books, 2011). Two days later, Myracle got another call from the Foundation. It seems there had a been a mix-up: the judges had read their list of finalists over the phone, and apparently the Foundation heard "Shine" instead of "Chime." Myracle was asked to remove her book from the list "to preserve the integrity of the award and the judge's work," the author told the New York Times. Myracle was crushed, but agreed to do so. Soon, there was an outpouring of support for Myracle, and Amazon sales of "Shine" skyrocketed. 
            So is "Shine" worthy of being a National Book Award finalist? I haven't read the books on the list yet, so I couldn’t really say. But if they are better than this dark and beautiful novel, then it is a strong field indeed.
            Seventeen year-old Patrick is found near death, strung to the pump of the local gas station where he worked with the nozzle of a gas pump in his mouth and an anti-gay slur scrawled across his chest. The sheriff of his local small North Carolina town is quick to pin the blame on out-of-town gay bashers. But Cat, his childhood friend, suspects that perpetrator is home-grown. Driven by love for her friend and guilt over a past betrayal, she is determined to find Patrick’s would-be-killer, despite the urging of her friends and family to stay out of it. As Cat uncovers the ugly truth about the crime, she confronts her own demons—the demons that caused a rift in her friendship with Patrick and others. Filled with memorable characters, richly atmospheric, "Shine" throws an important light upon anti-gay bigotry and the meth epidemic in rural areas of this country.
Some good has come of the "Shine" debacle. Rather than giving Myracle the $1,000 she would have received as finalist, the National Book Foundation has agreed to donate $5,000 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, an organization that promotes tolerance of gay teens. The foundation is named for a student killed in a notorious anti-gay hate crime in 1998.

This review originally appeared in the Sunday, October 30 edition of The News-Gazette.



Pat Bracewell said...

I really like how you ended your review with the anecdote about the $5000 donation. But what an emotional whiplash that all must have been for Myracle.

Hey Yo Miss! said...

Wow--that must have been so crazy to get both of those calls. It's good to know that all's well that ends well! Also--I am definitely going to check this book out--I am been meandering in fantasy forever--a little realistic fiction presents a little balance! Thanks for writing this!