For The Someday Book

Book Review: Shine Shine Shine

Posted on: November 14, 2014

Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 312 pp.

shinepaperbackforblogThis book was marketed to book groups (especially women’s), which usually indicates to me an interesting story that raises some topics for conversation. Its cover indicates it was one of the New York Times’ Review of Books 100 Notable Books in 2012, which means I can trust the quality of the writing. Both things were true, although I found the novel a bit slow. It was good and entertaining, but not especially compelling or memorable or moving.

Shine, Shine, Shine tells the story of two misfits who find each other as children, fall in love, and start a family of their own. Maxon is a boy abused in his rural upbringing, showing symptoms of autism or Asperger’s syndrome in his difficulty understanding emotions, and a genius in robotics headed on a mission to the moon. Sunny is the daughter of a missionary in Burma who returns to the United States, and bald from the day she is born. They have a son, Bubber, and a daughter on the way. The book traces their unique relationship with one another, the way they love and understand and protect one another from a world that was not made to understand them. It examines their individual histories and the development of their relationship, until a critical life-or-death moment they must face separately, yet in a connected way.

While I did enjoy the story, I think the reason it did not hook my interest more deeply is because Sunny and Maxon were neither normal enough or different enough to be compelling. Their oddities were not so odd as to render me curious to see the world through their eyes or navigate it through their bodies. Their level of normalcy was not deep and poignant enough to make me want to associate my life with theirs. I think the main reason I kept reading was because the book was set in Norfolk, Virginia, which is my home territory. Netzer spoke to familiar sites and places, although she did not speak of them as a native would have (she is a transplant to the area herself).

Shine Shine Shine was a decent story, solid writing, decent characters, but nothing sensational. Good entertainment and distraction for a little while. I’d recommend it for the beach or for a plane.

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About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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