Shine begins with a newspaper clipping about a teenage boy, Patrick, who was beaten and left for dead - apparently the victim of a violent hate crime. Sixteen-year-old Cat, appalled at the lackluster attempts of the Black Creek, North Carolina law enforcement officials to solve the crime, is determined to find Patrick’s assailant herself – despite having barely spoken to Patrick, or any of her old friends, for the past three years. As Cat digs into the mystery, she begins to overcome a traumatic event in her own past and make connections with her brother and her friends again, realizing that she can’t do it alone. However, Shine is more than just a mystery: it’s a deep examination of a small town and many of the people in it, and an exploration of people’s motivations – why do they do what they do? Cat learns to look past “people’s outsides” and “think about their insides, too” – in other words, she learns appearances can be deceiving, and learns to question some long-held assumptions.