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Shine Shine Shine [Kindle Edition]

Lydia Netzer
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.00 (33%)
Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

“Over the moon with a metaphysical spin.  Heart-tugging…it is struggling to understand the physical realities of life and the nature of what makes us human….Nicely unpredictable…Extraordinary.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

When Maxon met Sunny, he was seven years, four months, and eighteen-days old. Or, he was 2693 rotations of the earth old. Maxon was different. Sunny was different. They were different together.

Now, twenty 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.…

A debut of singular power and intelligence, Shine Shine Shine is a unique love story, an adventure between worlds, and a stunning novel of love, death, and what it means to be human.


Shine Shine Shine is a New York Times Notable Book of 2012.

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2012: What is a "normal" life? For Sunny, it means wearing a blond wig (she’s been bald since birth), medicating her autistic son (who wears a helmet because he bangs his head against walls), and teaching her brilliant but socially clueless husband, Maxon, how to interact with other humans (they whiteboard equations so he knows how to respond to compliments). When Sunny’s wig falls off during a car accident, exposing her bare head to her neighbors for the first time, she starts to realize that this "normal" life she has built is actually a huge problem. Everything about Shine, Shine, Shine is charmingly odd, full of feeling, and beautifully written. Lydia Netzer has created a cast of characters so unique and surprising, you want to follow their story long after it ends. These are real people making real choices about their lives--even if those lives are different from everyone else’s. This is a superb debut. --Caley Anderson


“Not only entertaining, but nuanced and wise…blending wit and imagination with an oddly mesmerizing, matter-of-fact cadence, Netzer’s debut is a delightfully unique love story and a resounding paean to individuality.” —People (People Pick)

“Netzer’s storytelling method is as poetic as her language. She slowly assembles a multitude of pinpoint insights that converge to form a glimmering constellation...a stellar, thought-provoking debut” —The New York Times Book Review

“Over the moon with a metaphysical spin.  Heart-tugging…it is struggling to understand the physical realities of life and the nature of what makes us human….Nicely unpredictable…Extraordinary.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“You’re pulled into the drama through the incredible natural beauty of her writing … deftly and wittily done … people say her style reminds them of Anne Tyler, but she reminded me a little bit more of Don DeLillo.” —Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review Podcast

“Entirely winning…a refreshingly weird story about the exuberant weirdness of familial love.” —The Wall Street Journal

"Netzer deftly illuminates the bonds that transcend shortcomings and tragedy. Characterized by finely textured emotions and dramatic storytelling, Netzer's world will draw readers happily into its orbit." —Publishers Weekly

"Netzer has beautifully crafted an original story with a cast of characters who make up an unconventional but strangely believable family...This story will shine, shine, shine for all adult readers." —Library Journal, starred review

“The novel traces Maxon and Sunny’s relationship from their childhoods in Burma and Appalachia to outer space, revealing the futility of chasing an ideal of what’s normal…Shine Shine Shine breaks free of the gravitational pull of traditional romantic clichés.” —The Washington Post

“Lydia Netzer’s luminous debut novel concerns what lies beneath society’s pretty surfaces — Sunny’s congenital hairlessness, her husband’s remoteness, their son’s autism. What makes it unexpectedly moving is how skillfully Netzer then peels back those layers, finding heartbreaking depth even in characters who lack ordinary social skills.” —The Boston Globe

“Netzer has penned a modern take on alienation, building a family, making connections — creating memorable characters and an odd, idiosyncratic, but highly believable narrative along the way.” —The Toronto Star

“Netzer uses [Sunny and Maxon] to explore the limits of love, family and what it is that makes us human and to create a tale that is utterly compelling and original.” —Chatelaine

“There are certain novels that are just twisty, delightfully so. Shine Shine Shine is one. In this first novel, Lydia Netzer takes a hard look at being completely human through the eyes of two people who are kinda not…Shine Shine Shine may ask an old question. But Netzer’s answer to how to be who you are is fresh from the heart.” —New York Daily News

“Netzer's first novel, the wacky, touching and deliciously readable Shine Shine Shine, draws heavily on her own unconventional life…this unassuming novelist… is the ‘it’ girl of contemporary literature.” —Kerry Dougherty, The Virginian Pilot

“[Sunny and Maxon’s] peculiarities form an endearing story in Shine Shine Shine, Norfolk resident Lydia Netzer's first — and amazingly inventive — novel. . . . Netzer's munificence of spirit lights her story with compassion. . . . Shine Shine Shine transcends not only geography, whether in Burma, Pennsylvania, Norfolk or outer space, but also the science and the struggles, the weirdness and the woe; it aims straight for the heart and the humanity that unites us all. Netzer, whose imagination knows no limits, infuses her debut with love — and reminds us that normalcy can be vastly overrated.” —The Richmond Times-Dispatch

“This is a novel about the strangeness of being human. Lydia Netzer says she wrote it when she was pregnant with her first child and feeling "paralysed with fear that I was too weird, too self-absorbed, too unskilled to have a child, and that whatever baby had the bad luck to be born of my uterus would be permanently scarred by my failings". Hopefully, she feels better now. Or at least, a lot less alone in her imagined weirdness. After meeting Sunny and Maxon, I know I do.” —The Independent

Shine Shine Shine is a novel…but “Shine, Shine, Shine” could easily refer to Netzer’s writing abilities, the way she handles the craft of storytelling, and the way her novel captures and holds the reader’s attention…Netzer is a master storyteller. She leads the reader through a landscape full of beauty and charged with pitfalls, actual and emotional, while holding your eyes to the page, and your fingers itching to turn to the next page.” —Sparkling Diversity column, The Virginian Pilot

“At its considerable heart, Shine Shine Shine is about birth, and as such it is profoundly a feminine novel. Netzer keeps the novel nicely balanced and accessible to male readers, however, by dissociating birth from purely biological terms and recasting it as psychological, spiritual, sexual and technological. It's a heady plateful to be sure, but Netzer handles it with a strong voice.” —Brent Andrew Bowles, The Virginian Pilot

“I can't say enough good things about Shine Shine Shine, and it’s almost impossible to put the book down once you crack it open. Well-paced, well-plotted, and told with a fresh, lyrical and bold narrative style, Netzer’s debut novel is compelling, smart, strange and enjoyable. It shines as brightly as Sunny’s bald head and the luminous stars Maxon sees in space.” —Sarah Rachel Egelman,

"Shine Shine Shine is an exquisitely written debut novel about family. All of Netzer's characters are quirky and unique, as well as damaged. Not every novel features a bald Caucasian woman, born in Burma, who is married to a rocket scientist on the autism spectrum. Even so, Shine Shine Shine is never quirky for the sake of quirkiness — Sunny, Maxon and all of the supporting characters are fully fledged and realistic so that they draw the reader in almost immediately with their strong and life-like voices. A story of personal growth and discovery that is unlike any you have read before, Shine Shine Shine will not fail to entertain and move you.” —

“A funny, compelling love story from the freshest voice I’ve heard in years. Shine Shine Shine picked me up and left me changed in ways I never expected. Intelligent, emotional, and relentlessly new, Netzer answers questions you didn't know you were already asking and delivers an unforgettable take on what it means to love, to be a mother, and to be human.” —Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House

“From the icy dead surface of the moon to the hot center of the human heart, Lydia Netzer's debut novel takes you on a rocket ride that will rattle your bones. Part science fiction, part pure magic of the human kind, Netzer makes a book that is wholly her own, and endlessly fascinating. At every turn, you think she cannot astonish you again, and then she does it one more time. And then again and again and again. This is an astounding first novel by a writer who is unique in her immense gifts.” —Robert Goolrick, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife

"Creating one of the most compelling protagonists I’ve read in a long time, Lydia Netzer manages to capture the outsider in each of us. Whether looking at the moon, a child, the suburban landscape, or the face in the mirror, Netzer shows us something we’ve never seen before, something we thought we knew. A beautifully written story where the exception proves the rule: the things that seem to divide us are, ultimately, the very things that unite us." —Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places.

“A perfectly structured gem of a book that held me spellbound as I unraveled the twisted histories of this unconventional family. You’ve never read anything like it, and yet Sunny’s story is every woman’s story. We are all outsiders, all alone in space, all trying so hard to find a place called home. I loved this book.” —Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Gods in Alabama and Backseat Saints

“An astronaut, an autistic child, a bald woman and a meteor collide, churning up the ground around a couple of decades-old murders. Life and death intersect in this wildly inventive love story I will be talking about and thinking about for years to come. If Yann Martel and Mary Gaitskill had a literary baby, it would look a lot like Lydia Netzer.” —Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and American Rose

Product Details

  • File Size: 876 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (July 17, 2012)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006ZL9DRO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,124 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
123 of 132 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I just finished Lydia Netzer's SHINE SHINE SHINE . . . and I'm rocked to the core. I don't remember when a book has moved me as this one has. There was a joy in reaching the final pages, and dismay at the same time, as if close friends would be now be forever lost to me. I can hear their voices in my head, even now. This book will be part of me forever.

It's hard to describe what SHINE SHINE SHINE is about. The story itself is fairly simple - protagonist Sunny, bald since birth and pregnant with her second child, is awaiting the slow and agonizing death of her mother from cancer, while her husband Maxon, a robotics scientist, is rocketing to the moon to help set up the first lunar colony. Sunny is struggling with her responsibilities as a mother and daughter in the absence of her husband, and having a hard time figuring out where things in her life went wrong. Netzer gives us a multitude of perspectives, as the narrative shifts from Sunny in Virginia, to Maxom in space, to their 4-year-old autistic son Bubber, who inhabits a world of his own. These are quirky, original characters who quickly get under your skin. Sunny is at once self-conscious about her baldness and ecstatically proud of it. Maxom recognizes himself in Bubber and fights against his wife and the doctors who are medicating the boy to make him more "normal." And Bubber himself is lost and found at the same time, a confusing mix of brilliance and social ineptness. These are real people. I loved them all.

Ultimately, Netzer's message is two-fold: First, things happen. As Netzer writes, "Other people's cars are like meteors. Sometimes they smash into you and there's nothing you can do about it." This is life. It's hard, but it's true.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally Wigged Out! June 7, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Shine, Shine, Shine, shines with strong characterization and a compelling plot.
While this is Lydia Netzer's debut novel, this is the work of an accomplished writer or should I say "re-writer" since she explains that she had plenty of input to make this wonderful story into a nice read. By using anecdotes, flashbacks, and vignettes, the author paints the portraits of Sunny and Maxon who fall deeply in love with each other despite their differences.
I loved the fact that Sunny is bald and Maxon is autistic. Yes, both characters must operate outside the parameters of what is considered normal, but that is the strength of the novel. When Sunny takes to wearing wigs seeking normalcy, she becomes resentful of Maxon and his abnormalities. Not until she realizes how much she loves her quirky Maxon is she able to accept herself and become the bald, beautiful person she is.
And Maxon? His love for Sunny is a rock upon which the waves of life beat relentlessly without changing the rock, it is solid and ever present. Somehow Netzer manages to make Maxon,an autistic genius, into a hero, one the reader can root for.
One great flaw with this book is that it was too short, for I find myself missing Sunny and Maxon already.
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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome feat May 27, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Having long been aware of the truism that one should not judge a book by its cover, I believe there is another similar caution: one should also not take the categorization put forth by the publishers as definitive. This book was classified as "Science Fiction and Fantasy", and in the short description accompanying it in the Amazon Vine newsletter was the statement, "A debut of singular power and intelligence, Shine Shine Shine is a unique love story, an adventure between worlds, and a stunning novel of love, death, and what it means to be human." It may be all of these things, but somehow that description didn't give me a clue of what the book was really like.

In addition, once I received the book, one of the thumbnail reviews on the back called it, "a funny, compelling love story". Compelling, yes, but to me there was nothing funny about the descriptions or circumstances. I would heartily agree, however, with another part of this same short statement, that Netzer's novel is "intelligent, emotional, and relentlessly new."

For real Sci-Fi buffs, I believe this novel is too close to possible present reality to fit the genre. After all, one of the recent candidates for President of the United States was trying to win votes in Florida by promising that if elected, he'd move forward vigorously on the project of establishing a "Moon Colony". If such a program were to be undertaken, surely it would have to involve a robotics program similar to the one envisioned here, and though my knowledge of the scientific potential of robotics is not comprehensive, I perceive that the level of technology described is well within the range of the currently possible, not futuristic or fantastic.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Moving Inspiring September 15, 2012
I knew that I would buy this book on the first day it came out. I too, like, Sunny, have alopecia universalis. Unlike Sunny I was not born with the condition. My alopecia (an autoimmune condition which attacks your hair folicles, your immune system somehow gets its wires crossed and perceives your hair as the enemy, therefore destroying it) started out slowly at age 25, with random patchy spots of sudden hairlessness, yet the bald spots always grew back with hair. Until one day they didn't. By the time I was 37, I was completely bald, at almost 39, I now have ONE hair that remains on my body. It is on my big toe. My ONLY wish would have been that the author would have put this explanation of Sunny's hairlessness in the book somewhere. Alopecia is rare, and this beautiful novel could have raised some awareness of it, only since, Sunny's baldness was almost like a character in itself.

After buying the book, it sat on my nightstand, waiting for me to be ready to read about a fictional woman, who was like me; as so many real women are not! Once I started, I could not stop. It is a love story about a unique couple; a love story between parents and their young son; a love story between a woman and herself. Lydia's words, sentences, paragraphs...they are akin to Rupunzel spinning gold. If I could write like she does, I would not have another want for the rest of my life. Except maybe for hair : )

Shine Shine Shine made me think about evolution in a way I never have before. Could it be, that as we evolve, we lose our need for hair? As we evolve as a species autism and asperger's will become more and more common? Like Maxon said, "Do you think it stops?" when speaking about evolution. Maxon. I loved him.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars good read.
Unusual but compelling. Great discussion at book club.
Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars I think I'm better with a more sequential story than one that jumps...
I had kind of a hard time with it. I think I'm better with a more sequential story than one that jumps around so much. Read more
Published 4 days ago by D. Harrington
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
An engaging, but not outstanding story.
Published 5 days ago by Charlene D. Crupi
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Sweet and whimsical, but also thoughtful and lovely. Above all, very readable.
Published 8 days ago by dawbygirl
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Hard to read, never did get more than halfway through it.
Published 11 days ago by cindy panovich
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting. Profound. I had a hard time starting ...
Interesting. Profound. I had a hard time starting this book, but later became entranced with it.
Published 13 days ago by Deanna Constans
4.0 out of 5 stars This book has the unusual plot element of a woman ...
This book has the unusual plot element of a woman who is born bald. The effect this has on her and her life is the undercurrent for an unusual and entertaining story. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Christopher L. Brockman
1.0 out of 5 stars Can't think of one happy moment in the book
Disjointed story. Unlikable characters. Can't think of one happy moment in the book. Struggled to finish (had to for a Book Group)..
Published 13 days ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this great writing.
The plot is unbelievable and bizarre all of which is overcome by the unique writing style. I really enjoyed the book.
Published 19 days ago by Brooks Wimberly
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Very hard to follow
Published 29 days ago by Agnes Rossick
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More About the Author

Lydia Netzer was born in Detroit and educated in the Midwest. She lives in Virginia with her two home-schooled children and husband, her Boston terriers and her Morgan horse. Find her on Facebook, Twitter (@lostcheerio) and at

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