Author: Candy Gourlay
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Monsters are in the eye of the beholder.
Rosa suffers from a rare condition that renders her mute. She lives on the strange island of Mirasol where the rain never seems to stop.
In the gloom of the island, its superstitious population are haunted by all sorts of fears . . . they shun people who suffer from Rosa’s condition, believing them to be monsters. So Rosa must live hidden away in an isolated house with its back to the rest of the world, with only the internet for a social life.
But Rosa has no desire to leave Mirasol. This is where her mother died and every night she lights a candle on the windowsill. The islanders believe this is the way to summon ghosts, and Rosa wants her mother back.
One day she is befriended by a boy online who calls himself Ansel95 – and she quickly realizes that this is one friendship that can take place in the real world. Can she really trust him? What does he want from her?
And then Mother turns up at the front door.
If you’re looking for a story with ghosts, monsters and things that go bump in the night you might want to find another book. They are present only in spirit hehe. Rosa was born on an island which knows the sun very rarely. An island that is full of superstition particularly when the rain stops and the sun comes out.
One particular superstition revolves around an illness known as the Calm – I won’t go into it too much except to say that it prevents its victims from speaking and affects some skin. Most who live on Mirasol think those that suffer from this condition are monsters and act towards them as such.
Rosa suffers from the Calm…
I loved how we see most of the story through Rosa’s eyes and how she didn’t really see her disability as one. She was born with the Calm and so never knew what speech would be like. I guess it would be very different if you lost your voice rather than not having one in the first place. I thought it was wonderfully handled – I always knew that Rosa couldn’t speak and it did have a big impact on her life. But it was going on in the background throughout most of the story.
I have to say I loved the use of social media conversations and the internet scattered throughout – I don’t know what I’d do without the internet – and so to see the true benefits of being freed (temporarily at least) from the constraints of an illness was brilliant. To be able (at least for a short time) to communicate like anyone else must be so freeing. If anything these conversations amplify her personality.
From the start there is a second story which seemed to only connect with the main via the theme of the Calm and I did initially struggle to understand why it was there and therefore follow it. But I promise it does eventually make sense.
The special mention for this review goes to Yaya and her stories – I really felt those little gems come to life when she told them. They give us the background needed throughout to understand why the islanders act the way they do (though how they act is unforgivable). She was more than a side character too – acting in a way as a Gran, doing her best to protect Rosa.
Overall, Shine is a brilliant little book, maybe less monsters and ghosts then you might expect but bags of heart and wonderfully written.
Thanks to Random House for sending me a copy