Strong, Brilliant Book About A Hate Crime And True Friendship

Lauren Myracle’s Shine received plenty of press for its egregious snubbing by the National Book Award Committee. I thought this book was outstanding and hope it is remembered for being an important book for teens.  This book is about so many things:  a gay teen who wasn’t afraid to be himself, another teen who is so afraid of himself he does a terrible thing and a girl who shuts out the world.  Cat is a girl who would rather be alone.  She lets go of her friends and for most of the book we don’t understand why.  She lets go of her best friend, Patrick, who is an openly gay teenager and now feels guilty because he is the victim of a vicious hate crime.  Patrick is now in a coma. Local authorities can’t or won’t figure out who did it.  They assume it was someone from out of town.  But Cat thinks it is someone in her town who did this and she is determined to figure it out.  Shine is about that journey as she digs through things people in her town would rather leave undisturbed.  Readers watch Cat go through a transformation as well.  Her transformation is my favorite part of the book.  This is a good read for any teen, especially girls who are trying to figure out who they are.  Myracle does a great job developing her characters and I found I missed them long after the book was over.  This is one of my favorite reads this year.

Ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss this passage from page 15, “Life was fragile.  Things happened.  Things changed.  A girl full of light could get that light snuffed out, and when everything around her was dark, she could roll up into a ball and ignore the whole world, starting with her best friend.”

Talk about what happened with the college boy in the library.  What would you have done?

Discuss this passage from page 96, “I was proud of myself for taking action at all.  I didn’t hide or run away for pretend the ugliness didn’t happen.  I stood up and said something that was true.  I said it out loud, and by doing so, I was standing up for lots of people, not just me.”

Discuss Christian’s friendship with Tommy.  Why do you think he was still friends with him after what he did to Cat?

What do you think will happen with Cat and Patrick?

Did you have any theories about who attacked Patrick?

Talk about Cat’s transformation throughout the book and what it means to shine.

Do you feel you shine?  Why or why not?

Talk about what friendship means.

Discuss the moment when Cat realized her brother did save her in his own way.

Discuss this passage, “I was possibly in love with Jason, just a little.  Not in love in love.  It was too soon for that.  But ready to be in love with everything again, or everything good anyway.”

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