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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

National Book Award Uh-Oh Finalist~"Shine" by Lauren Myracle

Publisher: Amulet Books/Abrams
Pages: 359 
Genre: YA fiction


When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

Let Reviewers and Authors Speak Out:

A very odd thing happened with the National Book Foundation this past week in their bestowing of the National Book Award for Young People's fiction. I'm going to quote a portion of Libba Bray's blog entry here for you:

(Libba Bray, for those who need reminding, is the author of such books as the series including "A Great And Terrible Beauty," and the more recent novel, "Beauty Queens")

"In case you’ve been away from any form of media for the past several days and missed it, last Wednesday, the National Book Awards were announced. In the “Young Person’s” category (and as a sidebar, can we get rid of that utterly ridiculous name?), SHINE by Lauren Myracle, was announced as a finalist whereupon there was much rejoicing among those of us who love Lauren and her work. This joy was short-lived. Not two hours later came the announcement that CHIME by Franny Billingsley (also an excellent, worthy book) had been added. For the first time in NBA history, there were six finalists. The National Book Foundation allowed that there had been a “miscommunication” between the judges and the NBA as, for the first time, the judges’ final list had been communicated in a phone call and not in written form. Thus, CHIME by Franny Billingsley somehow (don’t ask me) was misheard as SHINE by Lauren Myracle. I’ll allow that SHINE and CHIME sound similar, but Lauren Myracle and Franny Billingsley, to my ear at least, sound nothing alike. However, the NBA stated afterward that, based on its merits as a work of excellent literature for young adults, SHINE would remain on the finalists list. Crisis averted. Or so it seemed.
What happened after that is worthy of a soap opera called “As the Incompetence Turns.” Over the next few days, a back-and-forth of “we’re keeping it,” “no, we’re not keeping it,” “it’s worthy,” “no, it’s not worthy” was played out in the media and over the Internet in a very public, very hurtful way that did not seem to take into account that at the center of all this was a real live human being, an excellent writer, whose work and reputation were being dragged through the mud as if it were no big thang while the ruffled feathers of injured egos were patted down in a backroom somewhere."
For a complete story behind the story from Libba, please see her blog at: http://www.libba-bray.livejournal.com/ Whew! It's blistering!

For the record, I must say that I'm reading "Shine" at the moment and I like the book. It's exceptional, albeit Myracle has chosen a subject that may be controversial for a young adult audience, I suppose, in some critics' eyes. I have no idea what the age or philosophical statistics are for the National Book Foundation, or if this has bearing on this subject. Should we take the "clerical error" at face value?

Easy to see why "Shine" was recognized as a stand-out book, whatever the case may be. My full review will follow this coming week. If you get a chance, you may want to take a look at the novel on your local bookstore shelf. I'll bet it's one of those books that at the very least goes down in book history, and at the very best will make a mark for itself as seriously regarded literature.

So far, so good in my estimation, if that counts for anything.

What's your opinion on the faux pas???


PS: I'm sorry that all of this is taking the bloom off "Chime" and Franny Billingsley's recognition, as well. That is another worthy book. Ms Billingsley doesn't deserve this, either.



The silver lining is that this is bringing a lot of attention to Shine. I wasn't familiar with it before but now I am interested in reading it! It's frustrating though what happened, and I feel bad for the author.

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