Review: My Sunshine Away

April 28, 2015 book review, coming of age, debut novel, fiction, Putnam, southern lit 7

My Sunshine Away

  • Written by:  M.O. Walsh
  • Published by: Putnam Books, February 10, 2015
  • Length:  320 pages
  • Source:  e galley via Edelweiss with permission from publisher

Summary:  My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.

In My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh brilliantly juxtaposes the enchantment of a charmed childhood with the gripping story of a violent crime, unraveling families, and consuming adolescent love. Acutely wise and deeply honest, it is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive. (publisher)

My Thoughts:  This book is written entirely in first person, but the narrator is unknown.  We know from the story that he was a teen boy living on the same street as Lindy Simpson.  He had a boyhood crush on Lindy, but who didn’t, she was young, beautiful and independent.  That all changed for Lindy when she was brutally raped on her own block.  Pulled into the bushes and violently attacked, in the dark, unable to see her attacker, Lindy will never be the same.

M.O. Walsh shares with us the picture perfect Southern neighborhood, and then he stains it, and that is when we begin to see what is really inside of this block.  The memory of one teen boy, all the details and nuances of his feeling as that teen boy and the hunt for who could have raped Lindsey.  Walsh has captured that emotion, the young angst of a young man unsure of his own role in this tragedy.  There is an innocence and yet a feeling of guilt as Walsh describes the simple life and growing up this young neighborhood group had.  It took me back to my own youth of the 70’s where playing outside all day unwatched was typical.  Where riding bikes all over town was expected, and just being home by dark was the norm.

It’s perhaps odd to say I loved a book with the heinous crime of rape.  This is an occurrence in the book, and it’s central to the emotions the narrator shares, but the book is about his view, his feelings, the haunting he has about how this one event changed forever the mood in his neighborhood.  I highly recommend My Sunshine Away,  it’s a coming of age story written like none I’ve read.  I’m looking forward to more wonderful reads from M.O Walsh.

7 Responses to “Review: My Sunshine Away”

  1. BermudaOnion

    I know what you mean about loving a book like that but, boy, have you piqued my interest with your review. I’m going to have to look for this book.

  2. Sarah's Book Shelves

    Great review! This is still my favorite book of the year so far! If you haven’t seen it, check out Tara at Running N Reading’s post on seeing M.O. Walsh speak at the Arkansas Literary Festival…just went up today!

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