Shine Shine Shine — Lydia Netzer

Shine Shine Shine — Lydia Netzer — completely original and really really good. I had low expectations for this novel–a book about autism, congenital baldness and a space accident was unappealing enough to make me wonder why I brought it home to read in the first place. Glad I didn’t waste too much time meandering down that track. This story is unexpected, touching, funny (sort of), twisting and turning like a river silvered in the light. Sunny is one of the best characters I’ve met in ages. Her “maybe evolution isn’t over” math-genius aspie husband Maxon is utterly engaging. So is the highly-medicated on-the-spectrum-in-a-big-way son, Bubber.

You so root for this family–the extremely pregnant Sunny, born in an eclipse in Burma and raised by Emma who does whatever it takes to protect and adore her. Bright baby with no hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, and all the confidence in the world. Until she and Maxon, inseparable since childhood in some backwater farm community in Pennsylvania, decide to have Bubber. And Sunny gets a wig. And then, one day, when Maxon is almost at the moon and Emma is in ICU dying and Sunny, who might give birth into this chaos at any moment, has withdrawn Bubber from his expensive drugs and his expensive special school, Sunny and Bubber are a fender-bender and her wig flies off. And that is the beginning of the unraveling.

You should read Shine Shine Shine and savor the delectable writing and the hooks-you-and-doesn’t-let-up story. The Nobelist husband, the perfect house, the perfect wife, mother–perfect Sunny.  Hah! Perfection is something else entirely. When a meteor hits the space ship, what happens is perfect. Just like every ragged, slicked-over bit of Sunny’s life. Read this book. It’s nearly perfect.

Shine Shine Shine   Lydia Netzer | St. Martin’s Press   2012

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