Review: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

Today’s review by our own Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen


When Maxon met Sunny, he was seven years, four months, and eighteen-days old. Or, he was 2693 rotations of the earth old. Maxon was different. Sunny was different. They were different together.

Now, twenty years later, they are married, and Sunny wants, more than anything, to be “normal. ” She’s got the housewife thing down perfectly, but Maxon, a genius engineer, is on a NASA mission to the moon,  programming robots for a new colony.  Once they were  two outcasts who found unlikely love in each other: a wondrous, strange relationship formed from urgent desire for connection. But now they’re parents to an autistic son. And Sunny is pregnant again. And her mother is dying in the hospital.  Their marriage is  on the brink of imploding, and they’re at each other’s throats with blame and fear. What exactly has gone wrong?

Sunny wishes Maxon would turn the rocket around and come straight-the-hell home.

When  an accident in space puts the mission in peril, everything Sunny and Maxon have built hangs in the balance. Dark secrets, long-forgotten murders, and a blond wig all come tumbling to the light. And nothing will ever be the same.…

A debut of singular power and intelligence,  Shine Shine Shine  is a unique  love story, an adventure between worlds, and a stunning novel of love, death, and what it means to be human.

Marybeth’s review:

Shine, Shine, Shine is a quirky book. I’m not going to lie. The main character is bald. Her son is autistic. Her husband has Asperger’s, builds robots and is in space throughout the novel. I took one look at the premise and thought “That is SO not for me.” I don’t do quirky. I mean, I am normal so I prefer to read about normal people.

But am I really normal? Are any of us, really?

That’s kind of what this book is about– how even the quirkiest of us deal with normal human emotions and the most normal of us deal with some pretty freaky emotions and somehow– in this giant soup kettle of people and problems– we are all pretty similar. I read the first scene where Sunny, the main character who is wearing a wig and pretending to be just as normal as her two best friends, is in her kitchen going through her life. She’s fought hard for normalcy, even at the expense of her relationships with others. She’s worked hard to put the past behind her, to fit. And I realized that Sunny, though bald and married to an astronaut, is not that different from me, who has hair and is married to a salesman whose feet are firmly planted on the ground. I realized perhaps I could learn something from her.

If you like quirky– or even if you don’t– I would highly recommend reading this novel so that you too can meet Sunny and her family and neighbors and can read the rich writing that Lydia Netzer brings to this tale. I can guarantee you it won’t be like any other book you’ve ever read. But sometimes it’s good to depart from the normal.

Here’s what a few others are saying about this wholly original novel:

“Netzer’s debut is a delightfully unique love story and a resounding paean to individuality.”  

– People Magazine (People Pick)

“Over the moon with a metaphysical spin. Heart-tugging…Nicely unpredictable…Extraordinary.”  

– Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Lydia Netzer’s luminous debut novel concerns what lies beneath society’s pretty surfaces.”  

— The Boston Globe

Side note: we’ll be profiling Lydia Netzer in the near future and learning more about this remarkable book so stay tuned! It’s a post you don’t want to miss.

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2 Responses to Review: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

  1. Heather September 28, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds interesting – sometimes quirky can be good, I guess!

  2. Ariel September 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I’m reading this as we speak (thanks to a recommendation from Marybeth and from Kimberly Brock) and it’s just…wow. In a good way. In a very unexpected way.

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