- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (July 17, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 1250007070
- Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)
Maxon and Sunny met as children (or, as Maxon would state, at seven years, four months, and eighteen-days old). Two very unique individuals, outcasts even, bonded because of their differences. They were devoted to one another, found happiness in each other’s presence.
Twenty years later they are now married. Maxon is a genius, literally, sent by NASA to the moon to program robots for a new colony. Sunny, now an expert in the role of housewife, stays home with their autistic four-year-old son, Bubber. Pregnant with their second child, Sunny feels pulled in all directions. Doctors want to continue to medicate Bubber to help control his condition, but Maxon sees in his son aspects of himself, qualities he feels shouldn’t be diminished. As if this all isn’t enough for Sunny to deal with, her mother is dying, slowly and painfully, from cancer. Her life is spiraling out of control, her marriage is on the rocks. Oh, and Sunny has a unique condition of her own to live with: baldness. Completely devoid of hair all her life, Sunny has relied on a wig to appear “normal.” Yet as her life spirals out of control, it is her baldness that allows her to step outside her comfort zone and to be the Sunny she was meant to be, not one governed by what is perceived as socially acceptable.
Netzer has created a family of completely unique characters, individuals destined to be adored by readers. They aren’t your typical family, an aspect about this novel I adored. They have everyday issues and problems to face: Bubber’s autism, Sunny’s baldness, Maxon’s…..well, just Maxon all together. Issues that are often sugar coated or lightened in fiction are portrayed in living color. Told in alternating points of view, Shine Shine Shine allows readers to view life from each of the main characters perspectives, giving us an unadulterated glimpse of what is like for each of the characters.
But what makes this a truly tremendous novel is the growth Sunny undergoes, and in his own way, Maxon as well. The overlying message of this novel is to accept one’s own faults instead of ignoring them, to relish in our uniqueness. Attempting to maintain a level of normalcy in many cases, to ignore the things that separate us from others, is detrimental and devastating.
Words cannot describe the brilliance of this novel. You’ll just have to trust me on this one; Shine Shine Shine is pure genius, a truly rewarding and heart-felt read. Highly, highly recommended.
Tags: autism, family, General Fiction, Review, robots, space, St. Martin's Press