Review of Lydia Netzer’s Shine, Shine, Shine

“This is the story of an astronaut who was lost in space, and the wife he left behind. Or this is the story of a brave man who survived the wreck of the first rocket sent into space with the intent to colonize the moon… This is the story of a bulge, a bud, the way the human race tried to subdivide, the bud it formed outside the universe, and what happened to that bud, and what happened to the Earth, too, the mother Earth, after the bud was burst.” page 2

And with this introduction, Lydia Netzer introduces us to the unique and delightful Mann family, Maxon the genius husband astronaut, Sunny the slender and many sided and yet clearly focused wife, and Bubber their autistic child.

But Shine, Shine, Shine, to be published next month by St. Martin’s press, is also about secrets, death, lying, image management, and morality. In a unique narrative style, which reminds me at times of Faulkner’s stream of consciousness descriptions of his Yoknapatawpha County characters, Netzer, peels back the layers of Maxon and Sunny’s souls, not just heart but soul, as she tells their story of life, death, re-birth through fleeing one country,  death, life, re-birth and so on through this unique novel.

The characters are unique. Maxon is a genus but to this review was borderline mad. Sunny is wounded but is cold blooded and very measured. The support casting of characters, especially their mothers, add both a veneer of shallow suburban sophistication to a realistic and hard bitten realism that is forged in the Pennsylvania woods where Maxson and Sunny meet in childhood.

What I liked about this novel is that you never knew where the story was headed. As the narrative resides deep within the main character’s subconscious thoughts and feelings which are revealed in scenes such as when Sunny goes into labor and we read her garbled and pain driven thoughts as she wrestles with this pregnancy while Maxon is in space. “In the pain and the inversion, with all her blood a hot bubble in her head, she finally knew. She was unfit, and she was bald… I’m sorry, said the body to the baby. “I’m bald. I’ve made terrible mistakes.”

This was a refreshing, and surprising novel, that will leave you wondering what is going to happen next.

On my very unscientific scale, I rate this novel a “great” read!

Note: I received an advance readers copy of this book via Amazon Vine review program in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

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Jim Kane

I am a hubby to my wife of over 30 years, dad to two university students, caregiver to his mom, a minister, cat dad to Hanna who we adopted from our local animal shelter, a life-long aviation fan, and a reader and blogger. I began this blog in 2008 and post my book reviews, messages to my congregation, prayers, and other things as well. Thank you for stopping by!

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