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Shiner: Book summary and reviews of Shiner by Amy Jo Burns

Shiner

by Amy Jo Burns

Shiner by Amy Jo Burns X
Shiner by Amy Jo Burns
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  • Published in USA  May 2020
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

On a lush mountaintop trapped in time, two women vow to protect each other at all costs--and one young girl must defy her father to survive.

An hour from the closest West Virginia mining town, fifteen-year-old Wren Bird lives in a cloistered mountain cabin with her parents. They have no car, no mailbox, and no visitors--except for her mother's lifelong best friend. Every Sunday, Wren's father delivers winding sermons in an abandoned gas station, where he takes up serpents and praises the Lord for his blighted white eye, proof of his divinity and key to the hold he has over the community, over Wren and her mother.

But over the course of one summer, a miracle performed by Wren's father quickly turns to tragedy. As the order of her world begins to shatter, Wren must uncover the truth of her father's mysterious legend and her mother's harrowing history and complex bond with her best friend. And with that newfound knowledge, Wren can imagine a different future for herself than she has been told to expect.

Rich with epic love and epic loss, and diving deep into a world that is often forgotten but still part of America, Shiner reveals the hidden story behind two generations' worth of Appalachian heartbreak and resolve. Amy Jo Burns brings us a smoldering, taut debut novel about modern female myth-making in a land of men-and one young girl who must ultimately open her eyes.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Wren's engaging, convincing voice leads the reader through her strange world. A teenage girl is the strong center of a fever-dream story of hidden pasts." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[L]ayered [and] evocative...Burns beautifully renders the isolated Appalachian landscape and the urgent desperation of her characters. Burns's stunning prose is reason enough to keep an eye out for this promising writer's next effort." - Publishers Weekly

A compelling fever-dream of a novel crafted out of moonshine and jagged miracles, Shiner is simply perfect. I loved every moment spent in the world Amy Jo Burns so thoroughly evokes; I already know I will return to it again and again. Do not miss this exceptional debut." – Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times-bestselling author of Never Have I Ever

"In spare yet lyrical prose, Amy Jo Burns brings to life a brutal landscape and its dangerous, alluring inhabitants. A haunting glimpse into a strange, mystical world with its own laws and customs, filled with fiercely independent people, this novel combines a memoir-like intimacy with the mythic power of a fable. Burns is a writer to be watched." – Christina Baker Kline, #1 NYT bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

"Amy Jo Burns writes masterful sentences changed with all the beauty and rage and struggle of her characters. From the first paragraph to the last, Burns builds a vibrant and complex story of myths and miracles and moonshiners, as well as of the women who fight for their lives and their dignity as their future in a culture that all too often strangles all three. Shiner is a gorgeous novel." – Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment

"Shiner is a lush, gripping novel that explores love, grief, rage, and regeneration in a small Appalachian community. A story that feels both out of time and of its time, I won't forget the haunting mood, place, and characters that Burns brings to life." - Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State

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Author Information

Amy Jo Burns

Amy Jo Burns is the author of the memoir Cinderland and Shiner, a novel. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, Gay Magazine, Electric Literature, Literary Hub, the Paris Review Daily, and the anthology Not That Bad.

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