When searching through Net Galley to find some good reads, I stumbled upon Lauren Myracle’s name. I had seen her TTYL series in the bookstores and heard of Let It Snow, a collaboration book she wrote with Maureen Johnson and John Green. But from what I understand, Shine is something totally different. It’s definitely a much darker novel compared to what she has previously published and definitely darker than a lot of literature I’ve read. I attempted to read this right after I finished Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, and whoa boy. I had to stop and read something a bit more upbeat before returning to Shine– it’s that powerful.Shine is from the perspective of a girl named Cat who lives in a rural and very poor town in North Carolina. Even before the story begins, her childhood best friend, Patrick, is the victim of a hate crime. So, you may or may not be able to imagine how the town reacts. Cat has to look past all of their stories and judgements to find out who did it.This novel shines a spotlight on the dark parts of rural southern towns. Myracle covers nearly everything, from drugs, rape, prejudices, and so much more. Through Cat’s investigations, we meet drug addicts, moonshine drinkers, judgemental church ladies, and we even get to know a little bit more about Patrick. These bits are covered so well and without any bias or judging by the author. She tells it like it is, plain and simple. Well, as simple as you can talk about the rough life of a girl who has lived through so much and is now dealing with a town full of people who believed that Patrick deserved what happened to him.Whether or not you live in the south, this is a very important book. It talks about a lot of social issues that I feel get pushed under the rug, which is also a big part of southern life. A lot of times, instead of addressing issues, we would rather deal with them privately or ignore them all-together. Cat learns that this is not how you deal with problems if you want to overcome them. It broke my heart when her aunt acted like nothing dramatic was happening to Cat (several times in the novel). Ignoring the fact that Cat got raped when she was… What, 13? Yeah, that was much more harmful than actually dealing with what happened. I don’t know if I would say whether this book has a happy ending or a sad ending because although they do find out who hurt Patrick and there is a lot of horrible things happening within their community, Cat finds hope and crawls out of her dark cave, so to speak.I absolutely loved this novel. I really enjoyed each story characters told when Cat was doing her investigations. Stories are a big part of southern culture as it is, and having a book that has both a storyline and has people telling their own stories is amazing to me. I love how it all tied together. I also love that even though there are some really horrible people in this town, they all have heart. They care about each other.Even though I’ve read books such as Their Eyes Are Watching God and quite a few other books set in the south, I feel like this book is quite original and unique. It’s as if you are walking around with Cat and getting to know the town and its people. A lot of Young Adult books I read aren’t as gritty and don’t go farther out than the city or its suburbs. I am so glad Lauren Myracle took the risk and I really hope she writes more YA books.I would recommend this to everyone. I don’t care where you are from, I believe a lot of people can either relate to bits of the story or it will at least rock their world. The thing I love about books is that it gives you experience and insight into places that you may have never been before. But please be warned that this book is definitely at least PG-13. There is violence, a rape scene, alcohol, and mentioning of drugs. It’s all a part of the story and not for shock value (even though it may or may not shock you personally).All in all, this is an amazing book. So well written and well put together. I just want to hug Lauren Myracle after reading this. Also, if you buy this book, definitely read the Thank Yous. They’re great.Two more things:One of my friends posted this on her Tumblr/tumblog earlier and I think it goes well with this novel: “We’ve all got dark and light inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are” Sirius Black, Order of the Phoenix by J.K. RowlingCracks (Flux Pavillion Remix) [feat. Belle Humble] by Freestylers goes well with this book. It’s dubstep, but the lyrics, dawg. The lyrics.