Tuesday, August 14, 2012

{read: What is normal?} Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

When I started Shine Shine Shine, I thought it would be a book in which I didn't really like any of the characters but maybe I would like the plot. In the opening scene, Sunny and two other blonde, suburban housewives are commiserating because one of their husbands is cheating. So predictable, I thought. But then Sunny gets into a car wreck on the way home from picking up her autistic son and her wig — her wig! — flies off into a muddy puddle. Now this, I thought, might be interesting after all.

Sunny has been bald (hairless, actually) since birth, but she only started to wear a wig once she and her husband, Maxon, decided to have children. She thought that a mother needed to have hair. Shine Shine Shine explores what it means to be human and less than perfect. Maxon, who himself is on the autism spectrum and is a genius but terrible at social interactions, struggles to relate to other people. Their son has been kept heavily medicated, but what will happen when Sunny decides to stop all his meds? Then Maxon's space shuttle is hit by an asteroid, and it's quite possible he won't make it back to Earth. To top it all off, Sunny's mother is on life support in the hospital and Sunny herself is about to give birth.

I enjoyed these characters, their growth, and their backstories in this exploration of what normal life appears to be and what it really is. I'd highly recommend this debut novel. It's one of those books that you don't want to end.

Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer (St. Martin's Press, 2012)
My rating: 5 stars

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