I encountered My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh by recommendation. Bottom line: I was impressed.
Set in Baton Rouge, this book is a reflection on our protagonist’s life and, more importantly, his involvement in the rape of Lindy Simpson, the all-American high school girl and neighbor. The attack occurred in the summer of 1989 and eradicated all notion of security in a tight-knit community. This intrusion becomes an unspoken ripple that alters our main character: A troubled teen with family angst, dark curiosities, a crush, guilt, and real-life building up and shattering all around him.
I myself have recommended this book to several people. As you may imagine, it is hard to talk about–but that’s part of it. My Sunshine Away unveils all the little sinners inside of us, the global unrealization that terrible things are all around us. Meanwhile, the story is told from the perspective of a character who is funny, observant, likable in most ways. It is a crime novel in certain light and the evidence is shared over the course of several years with numerous pitstops and important, incredibly unforgettable scenes.
This book is hard to explain without unraveling some of the mystery. I’m too close to it, as I assure almost any reader would be after a few chapters. We encounter regret, deep internal thoughts, and vivid characters that liven up this Louisiana suburb.
Genre-wise, I’d fit this book somewhere in the fiction-crime-Southern-young adult-beach read-heavy-current events-literary fiction category.
I’m going to be lazy and say, “Let the book do the talking.”
Here are a few of my takeaways from this book:
- It provides a great example of how to build a small, balanced neighborhood (everyone has a role to play, we know where people are located, we know names, etc.).
- This book talks about heavy things but gives us light moments (again: balance).
- Walsh really delivers on and makes us believe in this teenager. (He’s a boy in love, guilty of something, and makes a fool of himself quite often.)
- The chapters are extremely cliffhangered! It’ll be like, “Well this thing happened!” (End Chapter) “Now let me tell you about this and make you sweat.”
- The information we get is well-paced and most (if not all) of it is useful to the narrative.
Yeah–I’d say go out and read this book right now.