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Shine Paperback – April 14, 2015
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"Gourlay has created something very special here . . . [Shine] is about reinvention and the faces we present to the world . . . all wrapped up in an exciting and perfectly paced story with a disturbing and dramatic climax. . . . She has truly found her voice." -- Philip Ardagh * Guardian * "[An] irresistibly exotic story of family, friendship, ghosts and legends . . . A sparkling jewel of a story." * Booktrust * "Both thrilling and emotive" * Inis * "Has you laughing and crying at the same time. You despair at people's prejudice. But then there are people who make you believe in humanity again. I can't tell you what style Shine is written in. You just don't notice. It just feels perfect." * Bookwitch * "There is a deftness of touch . . . This is a moving story about family secrets and the importance of communication and connection." -- Jake * Inky Droplets *
About the Author
Candy Gourlay is the author of Tall Story, which won the Crystal Kite Prize for Europe and the National Book Award in the Philippines, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal, and was shortlisted for 13 prizes including the Blue Peter, the Waterstones Prize, and the Branford Boase.
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* Rosa's voice. I could hear the thirteen-year-old child and the loneliness brought about by her imaginary condition, the Calm, which is based on a legend we are told early in the book.
* The imagery of Mirasol with its beach, mountain, village and its rainy climate
* The fleshed-out characters of Yaya and Rosa's father
* The page-turning nature of Candy Gourlay's writing. It is very accessible and simple.
* The sense of horror and shock value built up beautifully.
What I did not like much:
* I didn't like Kara's voice. It took too long for the reason or the author of these pieces to be understood, and meanwhile they were not interesting and interrupted the flow of Rosa's narrative.
* The coincidence of a visit that led to the incidence with Kara (avoiding spoilers here)
* It didn't seem likely that Kat would have asked Kara to open the door knowing how her personality was depicted (ditto see above)
* How Rosa was kept away from potential friends, other teenagers in the village with the Calm. As there is a huge stigma associated with the Calm, and Rosa's father was a specialist in the affliction, he was in the best position to alleviate Rosa's loneliness by creating a safe haven in which she could socialise with others like her.
* How her specialist English father could have enough work on the small island of Mirasol
* Spoiler here! And maybe worst of all, the depiction of delusional paranoia did not seem at all authentic or researched. Sometimes it was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in terms of the polar-opposite personalities, and at other times it was like a violent psychopath. When what it should have been was a deluded personality who didn't necessarily have the highs of being "normal" but the medically-treated lows when she was down in the dumps.
As this is a story for children and teens, then the real parts should have been true and researched. Mental illness is very real, and many families experience it. A compassionate handling of mental illness might either equip a child to handle their own circumstances better or at least uplift them while reading about it. I don't feel "Shine" did either. However, it has tremendous value as a well-told but ultimately tall story.
It's different - darker - and yet Gourlay's distinctive voice rings out on every page. Part mystery, part tender love story, part thriller, part coming of age story and all set against the back drop of dual worlds in England and the Philipines - it feels like Candy Gourlay is creating her very own genre.
Gourlay's books linger, they haunt. I can't help but think she's writing future classics - there is nothing throw away about Gourlay's writing. Her books are treasures.