Friday, August 3, 2012

Review: Shine Shine Shine

Shine Shine Shine
Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Literary Science Fiction Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free eBook galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Sunny Mann has masterminded a life for herself and her family in a quiet Virginia town. Her house and her friends are picture-perfect. Even her genius husband, Maxon, has been trained to pass for normal. But when a fender bender on an average day sends her coiffed blonde wig sailing out the window, her secret is exposed. Not only is she bald, Sunny is nothing like the Stepford wife she’s trying to be. As her facade begins to unravel, we discover the singular world of Sunny, an everywoman searching for the perfect life, and Maxon, an astronaut on his way to colonize the moon.

Theirs is a wondrous, strange relationship formed of dark secrets, decades-old murders and the urgent desire for connection. As children, the bald, temperamental Sunny and the neglected savant Maxon found an unlikely friendship no one else could understand. She taught him to feel — helped him translate his intelligence for numbers into a language of emotion. He saw her spirit where others saw only a freak. As they grew into adults, their profound understanding blossomed into love and marriage.

But with motherhood comes a craving for normalcy that begins to strangle Sunny’s marriage and family. As Sunny and Maxon are on the brink of destruction, at each other’s throats with blame and fear of how they’ve lost their way, Maxon departs for the moon, where he’s charged with programming the robots that will build the fledgling colony. Just as the car accident jars Sunny out of her wig and into an awareness of what she really needs, an accident involving Maxon’s rocket threatens everything they’ve built, revealing the things they’ve kept hidden. And nothing will ever be the same.

My Thoughts: The initial synopsis I read of this book at NetGalley lured me into accepting it; the longer synopsis I read above caused me to rethink my decision, but an agreement is an agreement, so I set out to give this book a read. And all I can way is, wow, I’m so glad I did!

Right away I was surprised at how engaging the book was; I was immediately pulled into it, into the beautifully flowing writing, into the lives of these not-so-normal people. I really can’t imagine what it would be like to be completely hairless, although I do know that the eyelashes, at least, serve an evolutionary purpose to help protect the eyes. I would have like to have seen a bit of a nod to that in the book, but there does not seem to be any sort of repercussion for Sunny’s condition, other than the defiance of societal norms (and, as it turns out, for most people, after the initial shock, it’s really not a big deal).

I enjoyed the character development – Sunny and Maxon have very interesting pasts, and flashbacks to their past are interspersed among the story. The secondary characters are also interesting – the television personality in their neighborhood (Les Weathers, I think), the other suburban housewives, the astronauts – all carefully individuated and created to you can get a feel for them fairly quickly.

Things get a bit rough at points, and the ending left me in tears – but good tears, happy tears, tears of joy, so don’t let that stop you. The overall plot is left unwrapped, although there are “visions” that I guess are supposed to show the future, so things are not left unfinished – just not completely for certain, if that makes sense. Anyway, this is a beautiful book, wonderfully well-written, and one I can highly recommend to almost anyone. Check it out.

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