Published by Amy Einhorn Books on February 10, 2015
Genres/Lists: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, #30Authors
Read synopsis on Goodreads
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My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh has been getting rave reviews since it was first released, which is partly why I put off reading it. I was afraid that the hype would outshine the reality of the book, and so I waited. This, my friends was a mistake. In fact, My Sunshine Away not only lived up to the hype, it exceeded it, and I can’t believe I made such a foolish mistake.
In a few sentences, the book is about a popular teenage girl who is attacked in her neighborhood in Louisiana. Far from a classic whodunnit, My Sunshine Away focuses on the town, its people, and the shattered facade of an idyllic neighborhood. More importantly, and most interestingly, it forces its young characters to face impossibly adult situations before they have the maturity to understand what those situations are and what they mean.
If you’ve seen the movie Now and Then, then imagining the scene will be quite easy – just picture the gaslight village the characters lived in, where kids rode their bikes, played in tree houses, and attended good schools. Now just add a really dark veneer to that picture, because My Sunshine Away couldn’t be a more appropriate title – the event stripped the sunshine from many people.My Sunshine Away by @m_o_walsh is a stunning story of a small town following a violent act. Click To Tweet
In addition the story taking on a life of its own, Walsh enriches the novel with throwbacks to the lifestyles of the late 80’s90’s. His subtle throwbacks to the movie Overboard, Buffy, and Unsolved Mysteries had me giggling like a schoolgirl because not only did I get them, I felt like Walsh was inside of my memories. Even more stunning was his ability to describe why food is so important in the south. Here’s what I mean:
Captures southern food like no other “When everything else is burning, sweating, beaten down by a torturous sun, only your tongue can be fooled. So you tease it with flavors like promises, small escapes from a blatantly burdensome land. You offer it up sharp spices, dark stews, iced cocktails. Anything you can think of to do.
<Insert sarcasm> But. And this is a big but. As accurate as his descriptions were, he got it wrong about living in Gainesville:
I’m from Gainesville, man. All I remember is being really bored as a kid. We lived in Florida but we weren’t on the beach. We didn’t have Disney World. It was just hot.
How do I know this? Because I grew up there and I can say, without a doubt, that it was not boring. Not even a little bit. When I look back at my early years, I can say they were pretty charmed. This leads me to my second contention – the book discusses that amazing 2007 game between LSU and UF, when LSU won. I can say with absolute certainty that the game was not amazing, but instead was dreadful. Absolutely dreadful.
Luckily, these small mishaps in no way altered my overall opinion of the book (even though LSU will always be at the bottom of the barrel for me). It’s absolutely stunning and will transport the reader to a world they’ve only read about. It’s suspenseful, thoughtful, and multilayered, all of which combine to tell a disturbing story about how one single moment can change the lives of a community forever.
Recommended for: Anyone who who reads this sentence and is left pondering its implications: “It’s a form of joy to have no other choice.”