I picked up Lauren Myracle’s Shine after the National Book Award committee accidentally included Shine on their Young People’s Literature shortlist instead of a similarly named book. When they realized their mistake, instead of just adding the sixth book, they went public in saying that Shine had not made the shortlist and essentially forced the author to withdraw. Even though the book had been deemed good enough to make the nomination list, the committee apparently decided that public humiliation was the best way to go.
But the author handled the whole situation with such cool and grace. Despite feeling like crap, she withdrew but requested compensation for her trouble—in the form of a $5,000 donation to the Matthew Shepard Foundation (Shine is about a girl trying to solve the violent hate-crime suffered by her gay best friend).
So this was a writer I wanted to support, and I bought the book—and I definitely made the right choice. Shine is a complex, heart-pounding mystery, with rich descriptions of setting and a vivid cast of characters. (Full disclosure: I’ve had a thing for gritty young adult lit lately.) The themes of gay bullying and drug use also make it a timely read.
The publishing media reported that Shine saw a big bump in sales during and after the book award debacle, so I hope that the net result for Myracle is that she’s gained a whole new set of fans.