Sunny has an accident in her car and what happens causes her to reconsider a decision that she made some time ago to hide something in her life. Once she has made that decision she realises that she has made many compromises in her life in order to appear "normal" after her unusual upbringing but the things she has done actually threaten to destroy her marriage, her son's life and her own sense of who she is. Gradually she will start to let go of the control she has of the things around her and learn to celebrate her own and others' difference.
This is a book that starts slowly with lots of detail about Sunny's life but you need this to understand what she needs to do in order to make changes. The story also jumps between the present day and Sunny's childhood and the time when she started to hide her own physical issue and to try and change her husband into something more acceptable to what she expects. The story is gloriously life-affirming as Sunny makes changes, sweeps away pretence and starts to live as herself.
This is a great novel in which Sunny's life to some extent mirrors that of every reader - we all try to tidy up our lives, ignore difficult things from the past and to please others although certainly not to the degree that Sunny does. The story is told mostly from Sunny's point of view as she stays at home whilst her husband goes into space with robots, her mother dies while revealing secrets about her past, her new baby comes close to being born, and her child struggles with school. I don't think many of us will face so many different problems at once but we can all understand the way in which Sunny tackles these.
This book does start slowly and strangely includes some mathematical equations (which you only have to observe not understand) but it is definitely worth persevering because the author's way of building the story until you understand what Sunny has done and why is a delight. By the time you have all the story of her childhood you can see why she has hidden her true character and also why she now needs to be free. The book handles some difficult issues about identity, abuse, physical "deformity", the desire for conformity, autism, and difference in an intelligent manner and ultimately gives hope (although not cures).
Excellently written, thought provoking and satisfying
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2013
Really interesting novel. I read it in one sitting, cried, smiled and remained slightly puzzled. Very powerful and moving story and I am really not sure what happens at the end!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2012
"Shine Shine Shine" deftly explores the dichotomy between fulfilling your own destiny vs. living to please others. It also explores the nature of illness. What constitutes individuality vs. the pressure of conformity and the need to be part of the group? When does uniqueness spill into mental illness?
As I read I kept trying to define the tone of this book. Quirky? Somewhat but the tone is beyond that. Whimsical? Yes it is that but not in a childlike way. Fanciful? A little but the action feels grounded in reality, at least emotional honesty. In the end I have to conclude there is no exact word that will precisely define "Shine"; it's too unique. Netzer writes in a genre all her own. There are times that the book threatens to spill syrup but she always skirts that stickiness. There isn't a misstep anywhere. She's not hitting you over the head with beliefs, she's exploring with you as an equal. She affirms that everyone has something that makes them feel odd, sets them apart. Some of these traits are superficial, some more profound. We can either change are differences if possible or we can embrace them and attempt to use them to our advantage. Netzer's characters grow into themselves. Their love and regard for one another strengthens. Almost best of all nothing feels inevitable in "Shine". The reader is always left guessing where we're heading. Netzer's is one of the freshest voices of 2012 in my opinion. We're not robots. Uniqueness is grand. I want to stay on her spaceship.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2012
A love story with a twist, this book oscillates effortlessly between the past and present. An entertaining yet thought provoking read. This is a great sun lounger book for anyone who likes an easy read with intelligent content.