How did I get it?:
I bought it!
Monsters are in the eye of the beholder.
Rosa suffers from a rare condition that renders her mute. She lives on the strange island of Mirasol where the rain never seems to stop.
In the gloom of the island, its superstitious population are haunted by all sorts of fears . . . they shun people who suffer from Rosa’s condition, believing them to be monsters. So Rosa must live hidden away in an isolated house with its back to the rest of the world, with only the internet for a social life.
But Rosa has no desire to leave Mirasol. This is where her mother died and every night she lights a candle on the windowsill. The islanders believe this is the way to summon ghosts, and Rosa wants her mother back.
One day she is befriended by a boy online who calls himself Ansel95 – and she quickly realizes that this is one friendship that can take place in the real world. Can she really trust him? What does he want from her?
And then Mother turns up at the front door.
Shine was recommended to me for the Luna’s Picks feature. I hadn’t read Candy Gourlay’s debut novel, but on the strength of Shine, that is something that I shall be hopefully rectifying very soon.
Shine is set on the island Mirasol, an island where it always rains. The main character is 13-year-old Rosa. She lives with her father, her mother died when Rosa was five. Rosa has the medical condition The Calm. The Calm has left marks around Rosa’s neck and has left her unable to speak. Those that live on Mirasol, are very superstitious about The Calm. They believe that suffers are monsters. Rosa sticks to the house to avoid these people and uses the internet to make friends. Rosa makes friends with a boy called Ansel95 who she becomes close to. She’s worried that when she finally meets up with this boy, she’ll have to reveal the truth of her condition. However, there are many more secrets in her family that she never knew about. And they’re starting to unfold.
I thought Shine was a particularly moving, unique book. It felt magical to read. Rosa was an incredible, believable character. I thought she was easy to love. Her relationships with her father and her housekeeper Yaya, were so well developed. I loved Rosa’s relationship with Yaya. I thought Yaya was a great, quirky character. It’s clear to see how much Yaya cared for Rosa. I thought it was lovely that she had such strong relationships with her father and Yaya, as she was so isolated from the rest of the world.
The story is split between Rosa’s story and chapters from another character’s perspective. They take the form of letters to a person called Kat. I won’t reveal who Kat is, or who the author of the letters is, as I think it really adds to the story, when it all unravels. I have to admit, it did confuse me at first, but once I realised what was happening, I thought it was a really unique way to slowly feed the reader with more background information.
I think one of the things I loved most about the story, is that I really believed in Rosa. I understood how insecure she must have felt, suffering from a condition that everyone considered monstrous. I completely understood why she felt like she had to hide away from society. I could imagine how lonely Rosa must have felt, so she did turn to the internet for socialisation. She was nervous about developing a friendship with Ansel95, because she was scared he would judge her like so many others had. I also totally believed in Rosa’s anger at discovering some deep family secrets.
Whilst this wasn’t a perfect read for me, it came pretty close. It reads almost like a fairy-tale. A fairy-tale well worth checking out.
Would I recommend it?: