Title: Get Your Shine On
Author Name & Publisher: Nick Wilgus (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: July 24, 2015 – 350 pgs
When his mother goes out to party one Saturday night and doesn’t come back, seven-year-old Ishmael Hood is taken in by his estranged uncle Henry and Henry’s live-in boyfriend, Sam. As this unlikely trio begins to build a new life together, they encounter both support and hostility in the small Mississippi town where they live. Seems like just about everybody has an opinion on the matter—and they’re not shy about expressing it.
While this blossoming little family finds its feet, outside forces—and ghosts from the past—threaten to tear it apart. Henry, still trying to deal with the tragic death of his parents, finds himself hard-pressed to open his heart to this needy child.
Just as a little shine begins to come back into their lives, Ishmael’s mother returns, and their world is thrown into chaos.
I had a very hard time with this book. After reading it, I had to take several days mulling over whether or not I enjoyed the story. While it was a quick read, I found myself having difficulties enjoying it, partly due to the language, partly due to the fact that Ishmael’s language abilities. I am still unsure if his speech helped or hindered the story for me.
This story did have a lot of great components. I really liked how you were able to see the story from the main character’s perspective, but with a flash of the past and his forethought to the future. I wanted to hug him, fight for him and defend his family. It is such a hard topic for a lot of people – when a family is trying to stay together, but forces outside of their control are competing and hindering their progress.
The church in this story was one that I know exists, but hope would not. I loved Sister Ascension. She was probably my favorite character. She was unwilling to compromise and held those accountable who were trying to hurt their fellow community members.
I think there were so many different layers in this story – so many back stories overlapping that it helped to create such a realistic view of how a community works. From the sheriff to the church members, the business owners and finally this small family. They all made up this strange, sometimes unforgiving community, but it was very real.
While I had a difficult time with some of the stereotypes and language in this story, overall, it was a well written, real story.
Nick Wilgus is the author of the romantic comedy SHAKING THE SUGAR TREE about a gay single father raising a deaf child in the South.
He is also the author of the Father Ananda murder-mystery series: Mindfulness and Murder, Garden of Hell and Killer Karma. His works have been translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish.
He also wrote the script for the award-winning film Sop mai Ngeap, based on Mindfulness and Murder, produced by DeWarrenne Films in Bangkok, nominated for Best Screenplay by the Thai Film Association.
Under the pen name Sulayman X, he is also the author of several novels, including BILAL’s BREAD, TEARS OF A DRAGON and KING OF STORMS. Under the pen name Jerome Wilde, he is the author of BOY CRUCIFIED: A THOMAS NOEL MYSTERY.
Wilgus sold his first short story, The Boogeyman in the Closet, to The Horror Show when he was 17.
He lives in Tupelo, Mississippi.