My Sunshine Away by M.O Walsh
Published by Viking
Published 2 July 2015
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
“It was the summer everything changed….”
My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighbourhood 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, unravelling 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.
There were four suspects in the rape of Lindy Simpson, a crime that occurred directly on top of the sidewalk of Piney Creek Road, the same sidewalk our parents had once hopefully carved their initials into, years before, as residents of the first street in the Woodland Hills subdivision to have houses on each lot. It was a crime impossible during daylight, when we neighbourhood kids would have been tearing around in go-carts, colouring chalk figures on our driveways, or chasing snakes down into storm gutters. But, at night, the streets of Woodland Hills sat empty and quiet, except for the pleasure of frogs greeting the mosquitoes that rose in squadrons from the swamps behind our properties.
WHAT I THOUGHT
My Sunshine Away is fantastic and I loved every page. The novel has just the right amount of light and dark moments in it. Despite the fact the central event in the novel is the rape of a teenage girl; My Sunshine Away is not depressing or filled with descriptions of the crime. This is a novel about how what happens to Lindy affects everyone around her. She is not alone in her pain and rage. Her father feels helpless because he failed to completely protect her. Her mother wonders if her broken daughter will ever heal. The other kids in school watch with morbid curiosity as the once golden girl falls spectacularly to pieces in front of them; dressing like a Goth, dating a series of losers, drinking to numb her pain and threatening suicide. My Sunshine Away is narrated by one of the four suspects who experiences all-consuming teenage love for Lindy and wants to save her but is helpless to take away the pain she is clearly in. This book made me cry at many points. Bold and brilliant, My Sunshine Away depicts how easily everything can fall apart. I loved the ending of the book and how the narrator makes everything worse by exposing who he believes is the rapist. He thinks Lindy will feel better if she has a name for the person who destroyed her. Lindy makes it clear that it doesn’t help at all and reveals that she remembers everything even though she’s let people assume she had no memory of the event. My Sunshine Away is heart-breaking. Highly recommended.