A debut unlike any other, Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer is a shocking, searing, breathless love story, a gripping portrait of modern family, and a stunning exploration of love, death and what it means to be human.
Sunny Mann has masterminded a perfect life for herself and her family in a quiet Virginia town. Even her genius husband, Maxon, an astronaut on his way to the moon, has been trained to pass for normal. But when a fender bender sends her blonde wig flying, her secret is exposed. Not only is she bald, but she's nothing like the Stepford wife she appears to be. As her façade begins to unravel, we discover the singular world of Sunny and Maxon, two outcasts who found unlikely love in one another. Theirs is a wondrous, strange relationship formed of dark secrets, long-forgotten murders and the urgent desire for connection.
But with parenthood came a craving for normalcy that began to strangle their marriage and family. As Sunny and Maxon are on the brink of destruction, at each other's throats with blame and fear, Maxon departs for the moon, where he's charged with programming the fledgling colony's robots. And when an accident involving Maxon's rocket threatens everything they've built, revealing the things they've kept hidden, they discover nothing will ever be the same
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"Characterized by finely textured emotions and dramatic storytelling, Netzer's world will draw readers happily into its orbit." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Netzer has beautifully crafted an original story with a cast of characters who make up an unconventional but strangely believable family. After all, it is the oddities that make us all human. Readers will laugh, cry, and, ultimately, cheer for Sunny and her husband as their love story plays out from the past to the future. This story will shine, shine, shine for all adult readers." - Library Journal
"Talky uplift and a self-congratulatory tone bog down the novel, but through compelling characters, Netzer raises a provocative question: Is autism a disability, a gift or the norm of the future?" - Kirkus Reviews
"A funny, compelling love story from the freshest voice I've heard in years. Shine, Shine, Shine picked me up and left me changed in ways I never expected. Intelligent, emotional, and relentlessly new, Netzer answers questions you didn't know you were already asking and delivers an unforgettable take on what it means to love, to be a mother, and to be human." - Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House
"Creating one of the most compelling protagonists I've read in a long time, Lydia Netzer manages to capture the outsider in each of us. Whether looking at the moon, a child, the suburban landscape, or the face in the mirror, Netzer shows us something we've never seen before, something we thought we knew. A beautifully written story where the exception proves the rule: the things that seem to divide us are, ultimately, the very things that unite us." - Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places
"A perfectly structured gem of a book that held me spellbound as I unraveled the twisted histories of this unconventional family. You've never read anything like it, and yet Sunny's story is every woman's story. We are all outsiders, all alone in space, all trying so hard to find a place called home. I loved this book." - Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Gods in Alabama and Backseat Saints
"An astronaut, an autistic child, a bald woman and a meteor collide, churning up the ground around a couple of decades-old murders. Life and death intersect in this wildly inventive love story I will be talking about and thinking about for years to come. If Yann Martel and Mary Gaitskill had a literary baby, it would look a lot like Lydia Netzer." - Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and American Rose
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Rated of 5
Diane W. (Lake Villa, IL)
Well, it does shine!
As others have previously stated, it did take me quite a while---and several stops and starts--- to really grasp the scope and focus of this story and it's rather quirky characters. But, in the end, it really spoke to my heart and made me think well beyond it's finish about the uniqueness of each of us individually, as members of our (sometimes) quirky families, and what holds us together as human beings. Would recommend it....but make sure to give it a chance!
Rated of 5
Lydia M. (Lakeview, Oregon)
Worth the extra effort...
I stumbled and stalled initially...asking myself..:What is going on here?" I am not "getting" this..put the book down, pick it back up..then out of the blue..it became clear..a story with explosive clarity. A first novel by this author takes on a subject written about many times...love. This is a book worth the effort, it explores and reveals love as experienced by a mother and wife in a way I have never read before. I was left with no question of the lengths one will go to find their way to what they call home. In a book that at first seems confusing...clarity is the end result. A must read...I look forward to this authors continued writings...
Rated of 5
Bob S. (Lawrenceburg, IN)
We all arrive oddly
Lydia Nester's first book is striking and endearing. I found her celebration of the oddities of her protagonists a reminder that we are each of us unique, never repeatable, and ineffably singular. Sunny and Maxon are notably ill-suited for the cultural expectations around them. But is it not true that in our attempts to meet our society's norms, we lose touch with the authentic integrity which which each of us arrives. Brava, Lydia.
Rated of 5
Carm D. (Omaha, NE)
Shine Shine Shine
I highly recommend this book. It takes a few chapters to settle into this unusual love story, but believe me, you will be rewarded. It is a tale where being different is the norm. I love brave bald Sunny, her autistic son Bubber, her astronaut husband Maxim who also shows signs of autism. Sounds odd doesn't it? Well it works! You will be so glad that you were allowed into the lives of these extraordinary people. I for one cannot wait for more from Ms Netzer.
Rated of 5
Patty S. (Towson, MD)
I was half of the way through with this book before I got to the point where I was able to appreciate its beauty. Until that point, I really didn't get it. Unfortunately, if I was just reading it for pleasure and hadn't agreed to review it, I probably wouldn't have finished it and that would have been too bad because the ending was worth the effort. Netzer's characters are interesting and I enjoyed being able to get into the mind and hearts of Maxon and Sunny. Their strangenesses were celebrated and this gave the book a lot of depth.
Rated of 5
Marta M. (Santa Ana, CA)
Shining on what is normal
I enjoyed this book very much. It took me a few chapters to understand the characters. It is about a family full of very unusual people. Maxon is autistic and speaks in the language of numbers. Sunny was born bald without a hair on her body. They find each other and what develops is a wonderful love story. As the couple try to find their way through life, Sunny craves normalacy and what she finds when she finally opens her eyes is that nothing is normal. To be yourself is the best the best you can be. I highly recommend this book.
Lydia Netzer was born in Detroit and educated in the Midwest. She lives in Virginia with her two home-schooled children and mathmaking husband. When she isnt working as a book doctor, blogging, or drafting her second novel, she writes songs and plays guitar in a rock band.
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