Review – Audiobook: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publish Date: July 17, 2012
Format: Audio, 10 hours | 53 minutes
Audio Listening Level: Easy – Intermediate
Rating: 4½ of 5
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 … (t)heir 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 is not having a good day. While driving her mini-van with her autistic son, Bubber, onboard she is involved in an accident. The impact of the crash causes her wig to fly off (Sunny is bald) and fall in a puddle of muddy water. She is pregnant and worried about the baby, Bubber is upset, and there is no one to call for help. Her mom is in the hospital, near death, and her husband is on a space ship to the moon. She is tired of pretending to be ‘normal’. The wig gets thrown away and she is taking Bubber off his meds. They are going to be themselves even if it makes them ‘different’.
Shine Shine Shine is the story of Sunny and Maxon and their unusual families. A quirky, wonderful story with unique, well-developed and likeable characters. There is joy, sadness and occasional laugh-out-loud humor. Much of the story is told from Sunny’s point of view and every so often switches to Maxom. We jump back and forth in time between the present and flashing back to the past to learn about Sunny’s birth in Burma, her mom moving them back to the US, growing up ‘very different’, and eventually marrying Maxom.
This is a difficult book to classify. I have seen it called science fiction, but it’s not scifi. The setting may be a few years in the future, but the story is contemporary fiction. It’s about relationships, family, being different, and makes us ask the question, “what is normal, anyway?” If this all sounds a bit unconventional, well, it is. But it works.
The audio was beautifully done and a pleasure to listen to. Joshilyn Jackson’s skillful narration made it easy to follow the different characters and the flashbacks in time. Her vocalization for Bubber, who is described as sounding like a duck if a duck talked like a robot, is not to be missed. The audio is excellent.
The ending was a little abrupt or maybe I wanted more and wasn’t ready for the book to end. In spite of that, it is a wonderfully charming read that reaches across multiple genres and should appeal to a wide audience.
Source: Review copy.
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