Review: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

imageShine Shine Shine
Lydia Netzer
St Martins Press
Pages 336
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review

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A debut unlike any other, Shine, Shine, Shine is a shocking, searing, breathless love story, a gripping portrait of modern family, and a stunning exploration of love, death and what it means to be human.

Sunny Mann has masterminded a life for herself and her family in a quiet Virginia town. Her house and her friends are picture-perfect. Even her genius husband, Maxon, has been trained to pass for normal. But when a fender bender on an average day sends her coiffed blonde wig sailing out the window, her secret is exposed. Not only is she bald, Sunny is nothing like the Stepford wife she’s trying to be. As her facade begins to unravel, we discover the singular world of Sunny, an everywoman searching for the perfect life, and Maxon, an astronaut on his way to colonize the moon.

Theirs is a wondrous, strange relationship formed of dark secrets, decades-old murders and the urgent desire for connection. As children, the bald, temperamental Sunny and the neglected savant Maxon found an unlikely friendship no one else could understand. She taught him to feel—helped him translate his intelligence for numbers into a language of emotion. He saw her spirit where others saw only a freak. As they grew into adults, their profound understanding blossomed into love and marriage.

But with motherhood comes a craving for normalcy that begins to strangle Sunny’s marriage and family. As Sunny and Maxon are on the brink of destruction, at each other’s throats with blame and fear of how they’ve lost their way, Maxon departs for the moon, where he’s charged with programming the robots that will build the fledgling colony. Just as the car accident jars Sunny out of her wig and into an awareness of what she really needs, an accident involving Maxon’s rocket threatens everything they’ve built, revealing the things they’ve kept hidden. And nothing will ever be the same.


“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.”
― Heath L. Buckmaster, Box of Hair: A Fairy Tale

The blueprint to this book is like no other. Once you get past how very different this book is, the many themes floating about are quite lovely. Eccentric. Unconventional. Fluky. A novel that is anything but ordinary, it is very very unusual – YOU have to read it to understand. Meet four memorable characters you can’t help surrendering to Sunny, Maxon, Bubber and Emma – each dealing with affliction, putting their best foot forward daily filling their gaps with playfulness.

As you read this book it is best to just approach it with an open mind. Don’t let its distinctiveness take away from the entire narrative, especially the characters. The story is a bit far fetched but that factor lends to its endearing core. ‘Different’ is always difficult to overcome but once you accept and master the approach ‘different’ becomes invisible, and boy is this book original from beginning to end. The plot, the characters all flawed but beautiful.

Sunny is sweet and lovable, given all she deals with she is amazing. I was quick to judge her but I realized she had to do what was right for her, keeping her sanity among the chaos. Although I wasn’t pleased with her choices, her honesty was appreciated.

Childhood sweethearts, I really liked reading of Sunny and Maxon’s love story. I was so happy life brought these two kind souls together. It was sweet watching them grown and their love blossom.

No doubt each reader will pull something meaningful from the story, guaranteed it will contain a theme suiting your needs. So many messages intersect in this story every one will find something to cling to.

For me I closed the book with the sense this was a love story, a story of family, a story of death most importantly a quirky story with the message of embrace your singularity and run with it, make the best of what you have NOT what you don’t have. Stop pretending and be real. Whatever message you take away from this artsy piece of work no doubt it will be poignant.

“This is the story of an astronaut who was lost in space, and the wife he left behind. Or this is the story of a brave man who survived the wreck of the first rocket sent into space with the intent to colonize the moon… This is the story of a bulge, a bud, the way the human race tried to subdivide, the bud it formed outside the universe, and what happened to that bud, and what happened to the Earth, too, the mother Earth, after the bud was burst.”

Netzer created such an individual quirky story it is only natural my curiosity is piqued to visit future endeavors from this offbeat author. I wasn’t crazy about her style but the many themes made this a worthwhile read. I can say I didn’t love this book but I didn’t dislike it either, as I said the themes served as savior.

Difficult to write a review so I encourage you to give this a shot. Be open minded and let the story take you away. I guarantee the end result will be worth the work.

3 stars


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