I first heard about Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer on Joshilyn Jackson’s blog. I’ll admit, I didn’t think much of it, but I filed it away in my brain under “Look for This Book at the Library” and then promptly forgot about it. A few weeks before Christmas my husband asked me to make a list of things I wanted, so I put a bunch of books on the list, including Shine. He got it for me, along with four others, and I put it in my To Read pile on the bookshelf.
Then one day while I was on the elliptical and desperately scouring the internet for something to keep me distracted for another 20 minutes, I came across Write Meg’s post about books she read in 2013. I knew that it was about robots and space and love, but her brief synopsis intrigued me. I picked up the book on January 1st and finished it in about 10 days.
In my first sitting, I was blind-sided by the main character’s mother being in the hospital on life support battling cancer. I’ve really been trying to be more positive and less mopey, and I considered stopping the book right then and there because I thought it might send me spiraling backward. I didn’t touch it for a couple of days while I contemplated just putting it back on the bookshelf and forgetting about it, but something told me to give it a chance and keep reading.
Sunny and Maxon Mann are an odd couple: she is desperately trying to be the perfect housewife and mother, and Maxon is a bit like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. He’s off in space trying to colonize the moon with robots, while she’s at home, hugely pregnant and caring for their autistic son, Bubber.
It took me a long time to get into this book. In fact, I don’t think I really connected with it until the very end. I couldn’t relate to the characters, I didn’t understand a lot of the math/science-y talk, and the preoccupation with Sunny’s baldness annoyed me. Mostly, I finished reading it simply because it takes a LOT for me to not finish a book. The only one I can remember that I’ve actually given up on and stopped reading was On the Road.
All that being said, I am SO SO glad that I stuck with Shine until the end. I feel like it’s one of those stories that doesn’t come together until it’s over and then you realize how much you loved it. It’s weird and different, but it’s also sweet and unique.
As I was reading the parts with Sunny’s mom, I couldn’t help but feel they hit a little too close to home. I teared up at several parts because I could relate so much, and I even thought to myself that it must have been written based on the author’s experiences, because I don’t think anyone could write so accurately about end of life issues unless they’ve been there. I finished the book in the middle of the night and read the article at the end about the author’s mother — I was right. Reading what she wrote about her mom and her feelings of guilt made me cry and I had trouble sleeping that night. I just wanted to give her a big hug and tell her, “ME TOO! I felt the same way!”
I realize this review has been kind of all over the place, but that’s how this book made me feel. Highly recommended!