Shine by Kate Maryon

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Shine by Kate Maryon

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Super debut novel in the kitchen sink drama teen market, all about fresh starts and forgiveness. Accessible, well-observed, kindly and wise.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: March 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0007326270

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You and me, Mum, you and me.

Twelve-year-old Tiff and her mother are a double act. They're so close that they're almost more like sisters than mother and daughter. They both like shiny, girly, things, and Tiff's mum seemingly has an endless supply of new, ever more glamorous baubles for them to share. There's only one problem: how she comes by them. Because Tiff's mum has rather sticky fingers. She shoplifts. She defrauds credit cards. She's very naughty and sometimes it makes Tiff feel rather uncomfortable. She knows deep down that it can't last.

And it doesn't.

With her mother in prison for theft, Tiff is sent off to the island remoteness of Sark, to stay with an aunt she's never met. It's so quiet and dull in comparison to London, and nobody's interested in shiny things. Tiff doesn't like stomping to school in muddy wellies. She doesn't like the uncool island children. She doesn't like her boring white bedroom. And she really doesn't like her mother any more. How could she have done this to Tiff? Life is just one big, black ball of despair.

But sometimes, life does have some very big surprises...

I really enjoyed Shine. It's a debut novel for Maryon, and it fits perfectly in the accessible, issue-based kitchen drama area so nicely inhabited by people like Jacqueline Wilson, Cathy Cassidy and Jean Ure. She has a background in counselling, and the wisdom gained in that experience shines through - if you'll pardon the pun - in her writing. She understands a child's deepest feelings, including the negative ones, and she allows Tiff to run through the gamut of them as she slowly works her way through feelings of abandonment, loneliness, fear and anger, until eventually happiness and love can resurface. Readers will recognise all her thoughts.

It's an uplifting story which begins with a huge disaster and ends with a new start for everyone. It will reassure and comfort its readers and it exactly inhabits their emotional landscape. The end is perhaps a little bit too perfect. I'd have liked to see a loose end or two if only to illustrate life as a perennially untidy thing and perhaps none the worse for it. Otherwise, I think tween girls are going to love it.

My thanks to the nice people at Harper Collins for sending the book.

I think they would also like The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson, which features a girl whose mother also likes shiny things and sometimes makes a big mess of things. Gone Missing by Jean Ure is another light but touching issue-based drama. Angel Cake by Cathy Cassidy also features a girl far from home - this time a Polish girl uprooted to Liverpool. They also shouldn't miss the wonderful The Ant Colony by Jenny Valentine. We also enjoyed A Sea of Stars by Kate Maryon.

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Buy Shine by Kate Maryon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shine by Kate Maryon at


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Robyn said:

I loved Shine first thing it was sad then it got happier when it got nearer towards the end. I can’t believe that Tiffany made friends with Holly and she is staying on Sark with her mum and Auntie and Uncle and cousin Indigo.

Thanks From Robyn age 11