Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer
Meet Sunny and Maxon, two childhood sweethearts who grew up together and eventually got married. In the beginning of the story, Sunny sees herself as an uber-housewife, i.e. as close to a Stepford wife as you can get, even fancying herself as a younger version of Martha Stewart. Maxon is an astronaut who never seems to be home, both physically or mentally. They have a son named Bubber, who is autistic and with whom Sunny spends her days with. While Maxon is on special missions, Sunny tries to maintain the picture-perfect life they have, even though inside she is falling apart.
It starts when Sunny’s van is broadsided. This causes Sunny’s perfectly blonde wig to fly right off her head and straight into a mud puddle. Not one to be ruffled, Sunny calmly gets out of the van, picks up the wig, and places it back on her head, mud, dirt, and all. The author then takes us to the story of Sunny’s lifelong alopecia problem, which only her family knew about. But when her neighbors see her bald for the very first time, Sunny suddenly has her “Aha!” moment and decides to chuck the wig; baldness be damned. With this brave decision, Sunny starts to re-examine all the other aspects of her life: her marriage to Maxon, her dying mother, her autistic son, her seemingly “perfect” existence.
Meanwhile, as Sunny goes through her baldness crisis and other assorted calamities, Maxon is up in the air, working on his latest project, trying to plant robots in outer space. The disconnect Sunny feels is not only physical, but emotional as well. With Maxon gone, how will she cope with everything? And if Maxon comes back, won’t that compound her problems? It is a nod to Sunny’s unflagging determination that she can and will withstand whatever life decides to throw at her. Only when she realizes nobody is perfect and everything will be OK does Sunny finally obtain the peace of mind she needs to live and let live.
The book was enjoyable, but a little long-winded for me. I was a bit frustrated with the constant flashbacks, which are random so it’s a little difficult to remember if you are in the past or the present, and just a little bored with the seemingly never-ending backstory of Sunny and Maxon’s childhood. But overall, I believe the literary horizon looks promising for Netzer. Check this book out and see what you think!
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