(Reprinted from The Pirate Tree)
Best-selling middle grade and young adult author Lauren Myracle has a moral compass and she wants to pass that on through stories, usually stories of adolescent and teen girls, that grip her heart and imagination. “I don’t want my books to be didactic.” she says, “but I want them to say ‘hey listen there’s stuff our there that you all are going to have to face and some of it is scary but a book is a really awesome place to process this stuff in a safe way.’”
That may be what drew her to wonder, while on a drive down a dirt road in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, about the lives lived in a dilapidated house with boarded-over windows, a sagging porch, and an old car or two rusting out front.”
As Myracle wrote on her website, “You’re a lover of stories…so you can’t help but wonder what tales this house might tell. Who lives inside? How do they stand the squalor? By what twist of fate, laziness, or plain bad luck did they sink so low?
Now hold on, you tell yourself. The people who live there–they’re still people, just like you.
And yet, surely their lives must be so different from yours.”
Myracle discovered the gripping story of sixteen-year-old Cat, whose best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime. It is the story of Cat’s decision to discover who in her small town did it. Rich in rural atmosphere, “this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.
Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.”
The novel isn’t always pretty, but it’s a compelling tale of redemption. The narrative is as honest and difficult as the lives portrayed as it traces the hurt and healing that can take place when a teen discovers her voice and speaks truly about her life and about her community.
Myracle is no stranger to telling honest and, sometimes, difficult stories. She’s been censored and called down for speaking about the sorts of things real girls worry about. She stands strong when facing her critics, choosing to write about contemporary teen reality–the good, the bad, the personal and sometimes painful and often hopeful–she witnesses in young girls’ lives. She says, “I talk a lot about issues that young women have to navigate like female sexuality…and certainly whether to have sex and how to handle that… female sexuality is sometimes scary.”
Even as Shine opens, readers glimpse a girl whose voice has been stolen because of her own painful and shameful experience with her brother’s friend. Myracle, who has been called subversive and stubborn, takes readers through Cat’s efforts to grapple with her own pain and to finally raise her voice when to help her best friend. To get there, she must confront bigotry, economic disparity, isolation and repression. Myracle confides, “I don’t try to put a reader off but to tell a story. I’m never going to censor myself with the rationale that people won’t buy a book if something is in it.”
While she has been called subversive and stubborn, Myracle insists, “I’m not out for shock value.”
While Shine may shock some, it may be the shock of discovery that comes from realizing this and similar stories are played out in headlines and in private, in rural communities and large cities. It’s a story that calls on readers to raise their own voices against crimesof hate and fear.
Lauren Myracle is the New York Times bestselling author of the Internet Girls trilogy—ttyl, ttfn, and l8r, g8r—as well as Rhymes with Witches, Bliss, and the new Flower Power series, among many other books for teens and young adults. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her family. Visit her online at www.laurenmyracle.com.
In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead, and her father cries a lot. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of “closure” in the dictionary, she realizes that is what she and her father need. In her search for Closure, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white–the world is full of colors–messy and beautiful, and it is through this discovery that she embarks on a road which leads her to find both healing and Closure.