Audiobook Review: Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer

Shine Shine Shine, a beautiful, sweeping debut from Lydia Netzer, is a powerful novel that centers on the question of normalcy (or is it normality? Thanks to President Harding, I'm never sure which is correct). When Maxon and Sunny first met as children, they were both different -- Maxon struggling to relate to the world with normal human emotions and reactions, and Sunny as a beautiful bald child with not a lick of hair on her head or body. Twenty years later, they are married and have a helmeted, autistic son named Bubber and Sunny has taken to wearing wigs to fit in and Maxon has gone to space to start a colony with robots.

Until an accident rips Sunny's wig from her head, and her whole perfect, stuffy neighborhood knows of her secret baldness, and Sunny's world begins to shift. Now she wants Maxon home, she wants to reconcile with her mother, she wants to take Bubber off his personality-stunting medications and let him be his own autistic self. She wants to wear her baldness proudly, but the "normal" life she has insisted on creating for the last decade is in the way.

Shine Shine Shine is charmingly odd from the start, with Sunny and Maxon and Bubber's quirks making them some of the most lovable dysfunctional characters I've ever encountered. Even the story's structure is odd, with flashbacks accounting for what feels like more than half of the narration, but never proving cumbersome or too bulky for the present-day storyline. Lots of things happen to Maxon and Sunny, things that affect them differently, things that do not fit into the equations of life that Maxon is keen on writing out for Sunny. As we learn about these things, we begin to understand both Maxon and Sunny in their own way, in their own fashion, and how perfectly quirkily they fit together, and how hard they have both worked, in their own way, to get where they want to be--or where they thought they wanted to be.

Netzer's imagination has run wild in her debut novel, carried through with strong writing skills that weave multiple stories and multiple time periods and multiple characters together into one seamless novel that will at once make you laugh, cry, and sigh with exasperation and understanding at once.

A note on the audio: Well produced, clearly narrated, with a narrator that sucks you into Sunny's world and keeps you there for days.


Thoughts from other bookworms:

The New Dork Review of Books
Lettore Bella
Book Riot Review GPA


Note: Thanks to the publisher for an e-audio copy of this title tor review, received from my Shelf Awareness editor.
Shine Shine Shine | Lydia Netzer, nar. Joshilyn Jackson | July 2012 | Macmillan Audio | Buy from an independent near you

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