Down with The Shine has an interesting premise and was for the most part an enjoyable read. However, I felt the ending was a bit of a let down. I’m not going to discuss why as it’s spoilery, but I’m not satisfied with the way the book wrapped things up. Despite that, it’s a decent, if not great, YA novel about wishing and growing up.
Lennie is one of those kids, you know the ones, they’re constantly in trouble for no real reason and everyone knows they’re good even if no one can quite pin down exactly why. She was raised by her uncles after her father, a criminal mastermind, left her in a Chuky Cheese and her mother left situation mentally a long time ago. Her family makes their living selling moonshine, and one of the traditions during the sale is the wish making and granting. What Lennie doesn’t know, because apparently her uncles are complete idiots who don’t know how to actually talk to teenagers, is that the wish granting is real. So when Lennie brings three bottles of the ‘shine to a classmate’s big end of (beginning of? I’m not quite sure) summer party and grants a ton of drunk teenage wishes, disaster ensues.
There is a lot, a LOT, going on in this book and I’m not sure it’s all covered very well. Lennie’s best, and only, friend Dylan was murdered earlier in the year. She has a crush on Dylan’s twin brother, who hates and blames her for it. There’s Lennie’s vacant and distant mother, and the role she played in Lennie’s history. There’s Lennie’s father and his criminal machinations. Plus the disaster of misguided and misinterpreted wishes. It is, as I said, a lot for one short novel to deal with. Some of it is handled better then others, and over all it’s an enjoyable read.
Among those many things that aren’t really covered at all, the book contains mother to son sexual abuse. It’s only briefly mentioned, and never brought up or touched on again. This really bothered me. I’m not sure why it was brought up at all, except to give one of the characters a bit of pathos. Like I said, the book contains way too many plot threads, and not all of them are covered well. I don’t like that this particular thread was put into the novel and then abandoned with nary a mention.
I think if you’ve got a few hours on your hands, and are casting about for something to read, this isn’t a bad book to pick up. I’m not going to pull you aside, thrust it into your hands, and say “OMG YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK” though.