Shine by Lauren Myracle - 5/5 stars
I don't know what I was expecting from Shine, but it definitely wasn't this gorgeously written novel that moved me to tears more than once. While I've never lived in a small Southern town, Myracle's portrayal of Black Creek feels spot on. There's a sense of hopelessness that a lot of these characters feel that leads to a culture of drug use and secrets (and of course lots of gossip and speculation). One of the novels strengths is that each character is really well fleshed out and by the end, you really feel like you could drive to Black Creek and find each one of them.
There's an underlying sense in this small town that even though Patrick was a nice kid, because he was gay he deserved what he got which makes it difficult for Cat to solve the mystery of who assaulted Patrick. Eventually she gets help from an outside source - a college student who used to stop by Patrick's work and chat with him. Cat and Jason's unlikely partnership of course grows into something more and like many readers I did find it unnecessary but I did like their friendship a lot and was glad that Cat had someone outside of her small town to count on.
The actual mystery of who brutally attacked Patrick is in fact solved by the end and while I guessed at the perpetrator, I was still surprised by the climactic ending. It has fantastic build-up and is definitely worth some of the slower parts in the novel.
Overall, Shine is a fantastically written portrayal of a small town with lots of things to hide. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see it win some awards this year. As far as I'm concerned it deserves them all.
(reviewed from ARC from Netgalley).