Shine, Shine, Shine: A Novel by Lydia Netzer
St. Martin Press, ISBN 978-1250007070
July 17, 2012, 320 pages
OK, I am a day or two late but here is a quote from the author's blog from the 17th, the day of the book's release....
"My novel is released today. Let's pretend you've bought it. Let's pretend you're holding it in your hands. I know what it feels like.So what is in Lydia's head?
The novel you are about to read has been with me for over a decade. Like all authors I’ve tried to put into it everything I have to say about life, just in case I never get a chance to do this book thing again. So what you’re holding is my best attempt at downloading everything I have in my head that matters."
Well, this is a book about your typical American family. There is Sunny, a beautiful, tall, thin blond and her equally tall and rather good looking husband, Maxon, who she met when they were just children in western Pennsylvania. Maxon is a very successful man now, and they live in a lovely home in suburban Virginia with their young son, surrounded by good friends.
But from there things go a little off.
Maxon is brilliant, a genius in fact, and quite an odd man, someone who has spent most of his life studying how to act like a human being. And Sunny is odd in her own way. You see, she has been totally bald, totally hairless, since birth, but since having her son and moving to Virginia she has, every day, donned one of her many lovely wig, glued on eyebrows and lashes and tried to 'pass' as normal. And their son, diagnosed as autistic (he takes after his dad no doubt!) has been given any number of drugs so he too can at least seemed more like other kids.
But one day, it all spins out of control. Sunny's mom is in the hospital, slowly, piece by piece, dying of cancer. Maxon, an astronaut, an expert in robotics, is on his way to the moon to help establish a colony of robots and his spaceship will soon be hit by a tiny meteorite that will spin them out of control. And Sunny will have a car accident in her mini-van. Don't worry, she is not hurt but her wig will go flying off for all her neighbors to see and Sunny has a sort of epiphany about what it is to be normal.
She decides that she will never again wear a wig, she will take her son off the drugs, Maxon will find his way home and they will repair their relationship after a terrible fight and she will say goodbye to her mother..oh, and did I mention she will be having her second baby any day now?
"Dark secrets, long-forgotten murders, and a blond wig all come tumbling to the light. And nothing will ever be the same.…"And that just scratches the surface of what this book is about and the wonderful characters you will meet in it.
It's a love story and a tale of more than one murders. It is at times very funny and at times very dark. It is a book about childhood and about what it is to be a parent. It's a story about friendship and robots. It's a book about some odd people trying to be normal and ends up questioning what it even means to be normal and if any of us are.
At first I thought this was a rather odd book that I was not sure I liked...soon I knew it was a rather odd book that I just loved.
This is Netzer's debut novel, which is hard to believe, it is so very, very well written. I know she said she put everything in her head into this one, but I really hope that she can find a few more things to put into another book!