Small, Southern town. Heinous hate crime. “Shine” by Lauren Myracle tells a horrible, yet necessary story, about many things all at once. On the surface, and in the very first pages of the book, we are greeted with a stark newspaper clipping that reports 16 year old Patrick Truman is found bound to a gas pump, beaten within an inch of his life, and left to die. Why? Well, that’s what his former best friend, Cat, spends the entirely of the book trying to find out.
It looks at first like a hate crime. Patrick is gay. “Suck this, faggot” was scrawled in blood on his bare chest and a gas nozzle was taped into his mouth. It’s horrifying. It seems very clearly to be a hate crime. The local Sheriff wants to chalk it up to mysterious out-of-towners gay bashing. Less effort. Real shame, and all that.
Cat knows her small town better. She knows, at the very least, someone else knows what happened and more than likely that someone she knows probably did it. She was closer to the truth than I think she was prepared. Her methods of interrogation and research are unusual, but instinctive and incisive. Mostly. She over looks things that I figured out about a third of the way into the book because she’s just too close to them. We also learn why she’s Patrick’s former best friend, and that is whole ‘nother ball of upsetting. Ultimately, though, Cat heals, helps uncover Patrick’s attacker, all while forging slightly better relationships (new and old) in the process.
A few notes: Cat seemed far younger to me than 16 initially. Once I was done, though, I realized it was probably exceptional skill on Myracle’s part skill on the part of the author that Cat struck me more as being around 13 or 14 in the beginning. Given what happened to her and when, it would make sense. Throughout the book, though, she definitely grows and learns to shine, and by the end I totally believed she was 16.