Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer
Narrated by:Joshilyn Jackson
Produced by: Macmillan Audio
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Genre: Literary Fiction
Length: 10 hours 53 minutes
Source: Received copy for review
Release Date: July 17 2012
When Maxon met Sunny, he was seven years, four months, and 18 days old. Or, he was 2693 rotations of the Earth old. Maxon was different. Sunny was different. They were different together. Now, 20 years later, they are married, and Sunny wants, more than anything, to be “normal”. She’s got the housewife thing down perfectly, but Maxon, a genius engineer, is on a NASA mission to the moon, programming robots for a new colony. Once they were two outcasts who found unlikely love in each other: a wondrous, strange relationship formed from urgent desire for connection. But now they’re parents to an autistic son. And Sunny is pregnant again. And her mother is dying in the hospital. Their marriage is on the brink of imploding, and they’re at each other’s throats with blame and fear. What exactly has gone wrong? Sunny wishes Maxon would turn the rocket around and come straight-the-hell home. When an accident in space puts the mission in peril, everything Sunny and Maxon have built hangs in the balance. Dark secrets, long-forgotten murders, and a blond wig all come tumbling to the light. And nothing will ever be the same.
I remember last year when Shine Shine Shine came out. It received rave reviews from publications and fellow bloggers and I knew I had to check it out. I was also incredibly intrigued by the myriad of genres that were attached to it. Science Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Romance, Magical Realism. I’ve seen it described as all of the above. Having now read the book I still don’t know if I can agree with any/all of those but I digress. On to the content of the book itself.
Shine Shine Shine is a challenging novel. There’s a lot at play here. I like novels like this. Books that require me to take some time and really think about what I’m reading/listening to. And to question what’s really being said below the surface of the story. I don’t claim to understand everything that’s going on in this book – or even most of it but there were two elements I found especially interesting.
Shine Shine Shine focuses on two central figures – Sunny and Maxon. It switches back and forth between two times in their lives. Their present life as a married couple and their time growing up together (from childhood to adolescence to young adults). I loved this juxtaposition of their lives growing up together and their lives post marriage. I found it interesting to watch them grow together, and grow apart and and see how their previous decisions influenced their present life.
In addition to their relationship I found that a central focus of Shine Shine Shine is motherhood. Sunny being a mother to Bubber. She’s now pregnant for the second time. She’s forced to make a decision regarding the prolonged car of her mother or pulling the plug. And Maxon’s very complicated relationship with his even more complicated mother. It gives you a lot to think about, looking at motherhood through all these different angles.
As you can see Shine Shine Shine was a book that sat heavy in my mind. Both while I was listening to this audiobook and after it was over. Though I felt the the ending was quite abrupt. And I definitely wanted more to the story. I can’t help but admit that this is an incredibly well written narrative.
Recommendation: If you like books that are constantly eating away at your thoughts and leave you asking questions you had never considered before, Shine Shine Shine is for you.
Notes of the Audio
Joshilyn Jackson is a good narrator. I really felt like she was Sunny. Her personality came through loud and clear. But in addition she also able to affect other unique characteristics in Bubber, Maxon, Maxon’s mother… The list goes on. Everyone feels incredibly unique and I never once got one character confused for another.
However, despite the quality of the narrator I wouldn’t recommend Shine Shine Shine as an audiobook. Since it shifts from past to present so frequently I found it a little disjointed. Time shifting would’ve been easier to keep straight in print. Maybe it’s just me but I find the little headers with the date/year extremely helpful.
About the Author
Lydia Netzer is a novelist, a homeschooler, a guitar player, and chief of the watermelon police. She lives in Virginia with her left-brained husband and red-headed children, and she is currently trying to knit with a broken finger. Her first novel, Shine Shine Shine, was published by St. Martin’s Press on July 17. It’s an IndieNext Pick for August, a SIBA Okra Pick, Amazon’s Spotlight Book in Best Books of July, and a People’s Pick in People Magazine. She can follow me on Twitter and Facebook or visit her web site for more info.