Rating 3.5Shine begins with the main character Cat discovering that her former best friend Patrick has been the victim of a vicious hate crime, he’s been beaten and left for dead with a gas nozzle shoved in his mouth. While Cat and Patrick were no longer as close as they had once been, this attack shakes her to her core, especially since she thinks she has an idea who was involved and she sets out to uncover the truth about what happened. This requires that Cat face her own demons and reconnect with those people she had shut herself away from after her own traumatic incident that was also swept under the rug and never discussed, even among her own family. I have mixed feelings about Shine. I thought the writing was excellent and the characters were certainly interesting and engaging. I believe the author really captured the essence of southern small town life, the good and the bad. And I really enjoyed trying to solve the mystery along with Cat, I had the whole “who done it” somewhat figured out, but the end was quite a bit different than what I was expecting. The issues I had with Shine was the lack of accountability and consequences for many poor choices on the part of the characters. On the other hand, I liked that the “good guy” and “bad guy” were not so clearly defined. Everyone was shown to be human and all too fallible. I think where I had a problem is that I believe there are some actions that an “I’m sorry” simply is not enough to atone for. I believe there should be real and tangible consequences, although I do understand that in many small towns there is the tendency to turn a blind eye to certain things. I just didn’t like that the focus seemed to be more on the “human” side of the ones who victimized than on justice for the victims. With that being said, this is absolutely a stirring story that explores some very difficult issues, poverty, small town bigotry, hate crimes, sexual assault, homosexuality, and drug abuse. I think the characters were very authentic and the story believable. My heart broke for Cat as she relived some painful moments and learned to trust herself and others again. I would definitely recommend Shine to those who enjoy YA Contemporary or stories with a southern setting.