A New York Times Notable Book!
”Over the moon with a metaphysical spin. Heart-tugging…it is struggling to understand the physical realities of life and the nature of what makes us human….Nicely unpredictable…Extraordinary.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
When Maxon met Sunny, he was seven years, four months, and eighteen-days old. Or, he was 2693 rotations of the earth old. Maxon was different. Sunny was different. They were different together.
Now, twenty years later, they are married, and Sunny wants, more than anything, to be “normal.” She’s got the housewife thing down perfectly, but Maxon, a genius engineer, is on a NASA mission to the moon, programming robots for a new colony. Once they were two outcasts who found unlikely love in each other: a wondrous, strange relationship formed from urgent desire for connection. But now they’re parents to an autistic son. And Sunny is pregnant again. And her mother is dying in the hospital. Their marriage is on the brink of imploding, and they’re at each other’s throats with blame and fear. What exactly has gone wrong?
Sunny wishes Maxon would turn the rocket around and come straight-the-hell home.
When an accident in space puts the mission in peril, everything Sunny and Maxon have built hangs in the balance. Dark secrets, long-forgotten murders, and a blond wig all come tumbling to the light. And nothing will ever be the same.…
A debut of singular power and intelligence, Shine Shine Shine is a unique love story, an adventure between worlds, and a stunning novel of love, death, and what it means to be human.
Shine Shine Shine is a New York Times Notable Book of 2012.
LYDIA NETZER was born in Detroit and educated in the Midwest. She lives in Virginia with her two home-schooled children and math-making husband. When she isn’t teaching, reading, or writing her next novel, she plays the guitar in a rock band.,
1. Is Emma a good mother?
2. What might Sunny’s life have been like if she had never gotten pregnant, and therefore never felt the need to put on the wig?
3. Was Sunny culpable for Paul Mann’s death?
4. Do you agree with Rache that everyone has their baldness, or do you think those perfect housewives actually exist?
5. Perhaps Maxon was better off without his dad, but do you think Sunny was negatively affected by growing up without a father?
6. If you wrote a letter to your child, to be read only after your death, what would it say?
7. The book suggests that raising any child is like programming a robot, with scripted replies, ritual behaviors, and reinforced responses. Do you agree?
8. Emma did not want Sunny to marry Maxon. Why? And was she right?
9. Do you think that Sunny seriously considered Les Weathers as a replacement for Maxon, if he should die?
10. Where would you prefer to live: the perfect house in a respectable neighborhood in a historic city, or a strange farmhouse in the wilds of an eccentric rural county?
11. What changes have you made to fit in to a new role you’ve taken on, whether it’s parenthood, a new job, or a marriage?
12. Do you think that motherhood fundamentally changes a woman, or do you think it’s possible to hold on to the person you were before kids?
13. Why did Emma bring Sunny back to America?
14. How is Maxon flawed as a husband? How is he a good spouse?
15. Could there be someone better for Maxon than Sunny?
16. In her worry that marrying Maxon would ruin Sunny, should Emma have wonder if marrying Sunny would be the best thing for him?
17. Is it Maxon’s fault that Bubber is the way he is?
18. Did Sunny make the right decision in taking Bubber out of his special school and off his medications?
19. How does a woman’s relationship with her mother change when she becomes a mother herself?
20. Sunny felt she had to let her mother’s ship fall past the horizon before her own could set sail. Can a woman truly become “the mother” while her own mother is alive?
21. Although Sunny’s mother Emma was the epitome of acceptance, and encouraged her to go without a wig while she was growing up, why do you think Sunny started wearing them?
22. Why did Emma turn her husband in to the communists when they lived in Burma, and was this revelation necessary for the plot and coherence of the book?
23. In pages 291-293 of the book, during Sunny’s labor with Bubber, she at first thinks she overhears her mother and Maxon having a conversation about Maxon going to the moon, but later Sunny thinks she must have made up the conversation. Do you think this conversation did occur? Why or why not? If you think it did occur what do you think motivated Sunny’s mother to make the suggestion to Maxon that he complete his mission to the moon?
24. How is Sunny’s decision to abandon her wig after her car accident related to her decision to take Bubber off of his medication?
“While Jackson conveys all the book’s humor, her reading is also full of empathy, and she brings out the characters’ underlying humanity. This masterful, flawless narration of an imaginative novel is something special and not to be missed.” —Publishers Weekly on Shine Shine Shine, a Publishers Weekly ‘Best Audiobook of the Year’, 2012
“Not only entertaining, but nuanced and wise…blending wit and imagination with an oddly mesmerizing, matter-of-fact cadence, Netzer’s debut is a delightfully unique love story and a resounding paean to individuality.” —People (People Pick)
“Netzer’s storytelling method is as poetic as her language. She slowly assembles a multitude of pinpoint insights that converge to form a glimmering constellation…a stellar, thought-provoking debut” —The New York Times Book Review
“Over the moon with a metaphysical spin. Heart-tugging…it is struggling to understand the physical realities of life and the nature of what makes us human….Nicely unpredictable…Extraordinary.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“You’re pulled into the drama through the incredible natural beauty of her writing … deftly and wittily done … people say her style reminds them of Anne Tyler, but she reminded me a little bit more of Don DeLillo.” —Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review Podcast
“Entirely winning…a refreshingly weird story about the exuberant weirdness of familial love.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Netzer deftly illuminates the bonds that transcend shortcomings and tragedy. Characterized by finely textured emotions and dramatic storytelling, Netzer’s world will draw readers happily into its orbit.” —Publishers Weekly
“Netzer has beautifully crafted an original story with a cast of characters who make up an unconventional but strangely believable family…This story will shine, shine, shine for all adult readers.” —Library Journal, starred review
“The novel traces Maxon and Sunny’s relationship from their childhoods in Burma and Appalachia to outer space, revealing the futility of chasing an ideal of what’s normal…Shine Shine Shine breaks free of the gravitational pull of traditional romantic clichés.” —The Washington Post
“Lydia Netzer’s luminous debut novel concerns what lies beneath society’s pretty surfaces — Sunny’s congenital hairlessness, her husband’s remoteness, their son’s autism. What makes it unexpectedly moving is how skillfully Netzer then peels back those layers, finding heartbreaking depth even in characters who lack ordinary social skills.” —The Boston Globe
“Netzer has penned a modern take on alienation, building a family, making connections — creating memorable characters and an odd, idiosyncratic, but highly believable narrative along the way.” —The Toronto Star
“Netzer uses [Sunny and Maxon] to explore the limits of love, family and what it is that makes us human and to create a tale that is utterly compelling and original.” —Chatelaine
“There are certain novels that are just twisty, delightfully so. Shine Shine Shine is one. In this first novel, Lydia Netzer takes a hard look at being completely human through the eyes of two people who are kinda not…Shine Shine Shine may ask an old question. But Netzer’s answer to how to be who you are is fresh from the heart.” —New York Daily News
“Netzer’s first novel, the wacky, touching and deliciously readable Shine Shine Shine, draws heavily on her own unconventional life…this unassuming novelist… is the ‘it’ girl of contemporary literature.” —Kerry Dougherty, The Virginian Pilot
“[Sunny and Maxon’s] peculiarities form an endearing story in Shine Shine Shine, Norfolk resident Lydia Netzer’s first — and amazingly inventive — novel. . . . Netzer’s munificence of spirit lights her story with compassion. . . . Shine Shine Shine transcends not only geography, whether in Burma, Pennsylvania, Norfolk or outer space, but also the science and the struggles, the weirdness and the woe; it aims straight for the heart and the humanity that unites us all. Netzer, whose imagination knows no limits, infuses her debut with love — and reminds us that normalcy can be vastly overrated.” —The Richmond Times-Dispatch
“This is a novel about the strangeness of being human. Lydia Netzer says she wrote it when she was pregnant with her first child and feeling “paralysed with fear that I was too weird, too self-absorbed, too unskilled to have a child, and that whatever baby had the bad luck to be born of my uterus would be permanently scarred by my failings”. Hopefully, she feels better now. Or at least, a lot less alone in her imagined weirdness. After meeting Sunny and Maxon, I know I do.” —The Independent
“Shine Shine Shine is a novel…but “Shine, Shine, Shine” could easily refer to Netzer’s writing abilities, the way she handles the craft of storytelling, and the way her novel captures and holds the reader’s attention…Netzer is a master storyteller. She leads the reader through a landscape full of beauty and charged with pitfalls, actual and emotional, while holding your eyes to the page, and your fingers itching to turn to the next page.” —Sparkling Diversity column, The Virginian Pilot
“At its considerable heart, Shine Shine Shine is about birth, and as such it is profoundly a feminine novel. Netzer keeps the novel nicely balanced and accessible to male readers, however, by dissociating birth from purely biological terms and recasting it as psychological, spiritual, sexual and technological. It’s a heady plateful to be sure, but Netzer handles it with a strong voice.” —Brent Andrew Bowles, The Virginian Pilot
“I can’t say enough good things about Shine Shine Shine, and it’s almost impossible to put the book down once you crack it open. Well-paced, well-plotted, and told with a fresh, lyrical and bold narrative style, Netzer’s debut novel is compelling, smart, strange and enjoyable. It shines as brightly as Sunny’s bald head and the luminous stars Maxon sees in space.” —Sarah Rachel Egelman, TheBookReporter.com
“Shine Shine Shine is an exquisitely written debut novel about family. All of Netzer’s characters are quirky and unique, as well as damaged. Not every novel features a bald Caucasian woman, born in Burma, who is married to a rocket scientist on the autism spectrum. Even so, Shine Shine Shine is never quirky for the sake of quirkiness — Sunny, Maxon and all of the supporting characters are fully fledged and realistic so that they draw the reader in almost immediately with their strong and life-like voices. A story of personal growth and discovery that is unlike any you have read before, Shine Shine Shine will not fail to entertain and move you.” —SheKnows.com
“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
“From the icy dead surface of the moon to the hot center of the human heart, Lydia Netzer’s debut novel takes you on a rocket ride that will rattle your bones. Part science fiction, part pure magic of the human kind, Netzer makes a book that is wholly her own, and endlessly fascinating. At every turn, you think she cannot astonish you again, and then she does it one more time. And then again and again and again. This is an astounding first novel by a writer who is unique in her immense gifts.” —Robert Goolrick, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife
“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
Shine Shine Shine was published on July 17, 2012.The Shine Shine Shine Audiobook is 1755 hours. Speechify has the Unabridged edition version of the audiobook.
Both the publication language and the narration language are in English.
Shine Shine Shine includes the following subjects: New York Times Notable Book, love story, familial love, family ties, bonds, daily struggles, marital problems, normalcy, secrets, lies, love, death, decisions, motherhood, birth, pregnancy, autistic child, autism, space travel, astronauts, engineering, NASA, lyrical, poetic, compelling, audiobook, audio book, books on tape. The BISAC Subject Code is Fiction, Contemporary Women.
The author of Shine Shine Shine is Lydia Netzer. LYDIA NETZER lives in Virginia with her husband and two redheaded children. She is the author of How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky and Shine Shine Shine, a NYT Notable Book and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.
The narrator for the Shine Shine Shine Audiobook is Joshilyn Jackson.