Tag Archives: coming of age

Shine by Lauren Myracle

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This was an extraordinary and haunting book. Cat and Patrick had been best friends all their lives, growing up in a tiny town in the hills of North Carolina. When Cat is 13, she suffers a sexual assault, and withdraws from everyone in her life, including Patrick. Therefore, she watches from the sidelines as he enters high school and is tormented daily for being gay.

Three years later, Patrick is attacked and left for dead at a gas station. Cat is furious that the local police are not making much effort to solve the hate crime. So, as Patrick lies in a coma, Cat sets off to investigate on her own, and starts to come to terms with her own assault and it’s aftermath. She starts talking to people again, trying to get to the bottom of the crime, and also getting to know her town and classmates again. Things start getting tense and dangerous as she gets closer to the real attacker, and Cat realizes she might need allies after all.

This was such an amazing book – an important book. I read it all in one sitting yesterday, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I’m even going out of order in my reviews to write about it sooner! The characters are stunningly real – flawed and scared and good and wonderful all at once.

I read a negative review of this book today that said the author forgave too much. I respectfully disagree – there was a lot of forgiveness in this book, but that was the lesson, the whole message. There had been so much violence and upheaval in that town already, and I really felt like the characters reached a peace that could not have been achieved had there been a horrible witch hunt. I respect them for being able to forgive, when there was so MUCH to forgive.

This is a big book – a book that should be taught in schools, read with families, talked about with friends. It made me realize exactly how much hate and pure ignorance still exists, even in our modern times. That people are just plain clueless about what it is to be gay, and are afraid of what they don’t understand.

I know that’s not news, but it shocks me, still. That is why this book is so important – so these conversations can happen, and bring some light to the ignorance.

Go get this book – talk about it with young people, talk about it with older people – think about it’s messages.

The Dagger Quick by Brian Eames

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This is a classic young-boy-falls-in-with-pirates story, but man is it good! Kitto has a clubfoot, and is convinced by his father that this makes him unfit to follow his dreams and go to sea. When his mysterious pirate uncle shows up and his father is killed, Kitto heads off on the adventure of a lifetime to avenge his father and save his mother and brother. Kitto’s ship is full of pirates, but they are realistic in that they are a rather motley crew who are just trying to make a living. The other ship, however, is more your typical pirate villians. A creepy captain with a severed nose and a fondness for murder and mayhem has Kitto’s remaining family on board his ship as ransom. Kitto is determined to rescue them, but his uncle is feeling torn about surrendering the barrels of expensive nutmeg that he has waited many long years to reclaim. The Uncle is a great character, very well-rounded and has many human failings, but ultimately has you cheering for him. Kitto is pure gold – love him. His mother taught him to visualize the outcome he wants and believe with all his heart that something will be so. This helps him through countless dangerous and difficult situations. He is so determined and brave and real. Just lovely. The minor characters have great backstories and depth to them as well, even characters that only get one or two lines.

This book was clearly well researched, and Eames teaches middle school, which has helped him find a voice that young readers will love.

This is a must read, and would appeal to many ages and both boys and girls.