The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

My Sunshine Away

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It took sometime for me to formulate exactly what I would say about My Sunshine Away (B+) by M. O. Walsh. It is a beautifully written novel yet extremely complex. I wanted to write a review that matched how I felt about it but first I had to understand those feelings myself. Let me explain.

The narrator takes us back to his home in Baton Rouge in 1989 where at 14 his entire world is consumed with the feelings he has for a girl named Lindy. That summer, Lindy is raped and he (the narrator) is one of the suspects. His feelings that summer are typical teenage boy yearnings. He’d love to fall in love and maybe even have his first sexual experience and he’d love to be a hero, her hero. Somehow, he believes it is his responsibility to find out who raped Lindy. In doing so, he opens himself up to a tremendous amount of “adult” situations that are impossible for a teenager to handle.

And so it goes. He defends the southern culture describing what makes Baton Rouge wonderful with sometimes a bit too descriptive ramblings. He justifies his actions by detailing events in his life that support why he does what he does. He leads a rather dysfunctional life with family issues galore and stumbles forward always with the intent to make Lindy love him.

His narration becomes a confession of sorts but what is he confessing to? This thought alone makes the reader push on. I never felt I wouldn’t continue reading and at times the intensity of the story just swallowed me up. I needed to have answers; I needed a resolution. In the end, I got all this and was satisfied with it all but it left me extremely anxious and unsettled. Now that a day has passed since I finished reading, I can honestly say the author did a good job. The narrator is so powerful that the reader becomes totally invested in his pursuit of justice. At times, you want to scream to him to be careful, or warn him of danger.

My Sunshine Away has received tons of acclaim from other writers and now I understand why. It’s purposeful and accurately captures how a boy at 14 sees and deals with life. I recommend My Sunshine Away for the strong, committed reader who doesn’t necessarily want a fuzzy, feel good read but rather something to dig your heels into and contemplate. This would be a terrific book for discussion. Congratulations to M. O. Walsh on capturing my attention. Like the song, You Are My Sunshine, it will be impossible to forget.

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