Wow! I can’t believe I never posted this. So, even though it’s out of date, here it is.
I know the controversy between the nominations of Chime and Shine has died down, but it’s taken me until now to read Shine. So, here are my final comments (maybe).
Someone I know said something to the effect that Chime is loved by the critics and not too many others. Unfortunately I agree. It’s very literary and I was able to get through about 50 pages before I put it down. It’s not that I hated it, it’s that so many other books were calling to me that I just lost interest. That’s not to disparage Franny Billingsley…please don’t get me wrong. Chime just wasn’t my book.
So, instead I thought I’d compare Shine by Lauren Myracle to It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It) by Julie Anne Peters. Why not compare two sides of the spectrum?
Shine takes place in the South. Patrick does not hide his sexual orientation and when he is found outside the Come ‘n Go convenience store, beaten up and with a gasoline nozzle in his mouth, the theory is he is a victim of a hate crime. Cat, his one time best friend, decides she must find out who did this to Patrick and the book follows her on her quest. We meet Beef, Tommy, Dupree and Bailee-Ann, kids Cat’s grown up with and known forever.
As Cat searches for the perpetrator, the reader learns why she withdrew from all her friends. We find all the inner secrets of the people around her, adults and teens. Myracle paints a not so pretty picture of the South, of the backwoods towns, the poor economic conditions, the use of drugs as an escape mechanism, the intolerance of people because they are different.
Rather than being a book about homosexuality, Shine is really a book about self discovery, confronting your past, learning who you are. The vehicle Myracle uses is a hate crime, although it could easily have been a robbery, a death in the family, a divorce or a myriad of other life events. Lauren Myracle outshown herself (pun intended) in Shine. If you like reading well written books, books that make a point, books that hold your interest, Shine should fit the bill. Apparently not for the National Book Award judges, but for you and me plain folk, it’ll do just fine.
In the Colorado town in which Azure, Luke and Radhika live, in It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It), sexual orientation is not an issue. And, yeah, while Luke may get razzed by his brother, Owen’s, friends for being bisexual, and yeah, they may not like him for it, there is little to none of that outright hatred that permeates the southern town in which Patrick and Cat live in Shine. And that’s the difference. It’s Our Prom emphasizes inclusiveness.
Azure is asked by her school principal to become a Prom Com member and work to make the prom more inclusive; of straights, gays, geeks, nerds, loners, cliques and non-cliques. The fact that Azure and Luke both want to ask Radhika to the prom is just part of the romantic triangle. The fact that Azure’s former girlfriend reappears and pulls at some forgotten heartstrings is what happens to every teenager. The fact that Luke has a crush on both Connor and Radhika is no different than a million other teens whose hearts are pulled in many directions.
The result is a fun read about a group of teens whose goal to make a prom to remember is thwarted by parents, teachers, idealism and naïveté. Some of the crushes are obvious to the reader while unknown to the recipient. Peters has a way of creating characters that you want as your friends and Azure, Luke and Radhika fall into this category. These kids go through the same things that every teenager goes through: uncertainty about the future, parental pressure, school work overload. This is the kind of world I’d like to live in. Life is hard enough without castigating someone because of who they love. Read It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It).
So, in conclusion, both Lauren Myracle and Julie Anne Peters have authored excellent books that use the GLBTQ theme as a backdrop for something more. That’s what I like about the books and the authors. There’s something more.
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