Shine Shine Shine Review
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Most fictional love stories depict the ideal: the perfect romance between nearly perfect characters—characters whose mostly insignificant flaws bring the necessary amount of conflict to the story without taking away the lighthearted entertainment value. But that’s not the case in author Lydia Netzer’s unconventional literary love story, Shine Shine Shine, the story of two flawed characters, their flawed romance, and their flawed little family.

Sunny was born completely (and permanently) bald to a missionary couple in Burma during a solar eclipse. But that was just the beginning of her exceptional life. After her father’s death, she and her mother, Emma, moved to Pennsylvania—and that’s where she met Maxon, the little boy who would one day become her husband.

Now, Sunny and her Nobel Prize-winning husband live in a posh neighborhood in Virginia with their autistic son, Bubber. And while Sunny is apprehensively awaiting the arrival of a new baby girl, Maxon is on his way into space, working on a mission to colonize the moon with robots he’s designed.

As Maxon’s ship is hit by a meteor, putting the whole mission—and the lives of the men on board—in danger, Sunny’s life on Earth takes a hit of its own. And no matter how hard she’s worked to put her best face forward, she can’t stop the cracks from beginning to show.

Shine Shine Shine certainly isn’t the same old novel. It’s an unconventional story about unconventional characters: the bald woman with deep-seated secrets, the abused genius, their autistic son, her terminally ill mother. They’re definitely not the same old literary clichés, whose actions you’ll be able to predict and whose secrets you’ll know from the beginning. Instead, they’re difficult, challenging, perplexing—and often frustrating, too. And while their story doesn’t exactly make for a light, poolside kind of read, it’s certainly a memorable one—a story about learning to live with our flaws and eccentricities, as well as those of the people around us.

Netzer’s style, however, adds to the challenge. The story is filled with flashbacks—and it’s often difficult to keep track of which segments are flashbacks and which ones take place in the present. At the same time, the third-person omniscient point of view—along with the book’s distant tone—makes it all feel cold and even clinical at times, as if it were a text book instead of a novel. And though there’s a perfectly good reason for Netzer’s choice of tone, it nevertheless makes it difficult to warm up to the characters and their story.

Still, while Shine Shine Shine isn’t exactly a light, cozy read, the unusual characters and their unexpected journey make it a book that you won’t soon forget. And the refreshingly hopeful conclusion will leave you with a surprising—and satisfying—feeling of warmth and closure.

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