Shine by Lauren Myracle (NY: Amulet Books, 2011) [reviewed from ARC supplied by publisher].
It's a ripped-from-the-headlines scenario: gay teen bound, beaten, and burned by unknown thugs and left for dead with a gas nozzle in his mouth. Except he's not dead, and his former best friend, Cat, wants to find out whodunit. She's pretty sure the sheriff of their rural North Carolina town won't do it, and she feels that getting justice for Patrick might make up for not talking to him for the past three years--ever since something happened to her that she just couldn't talk about to anyone. Her investigation forces her to view her community with a fresh eye, taking in the drugs, poverty, and insularity that led to Patrick's beating, and her own problems. Much as she wants to escape and not look back, she feels the ties that bind her to the place, and she wants to hope for something better.
Myracle treads on grittier ground than in some her previous fiction here, delving into the ugly underside of Southern, rural culture. Vivid, realistic details sparkle throughout this well-told story with enough introspection and romance, plus danger and suspense, for both male and female readers. Highly recommended for teens, ages 13 & up.
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