I received a copy of My Sunshine Away by M. O. Walsh in exchange for an honest review.
It was the summer everything changed.…
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.
M. O. Walsh’s novel My Sunshine Away has a misguiding title. There isn’t a great deal of sunshine here. In fact the story is downright creepy. But in that sense it feels more like a memoir or real crime book, meaning it feels real. I personally enjoy reading to escape my reality. But there is something compelling about these 303 pages. I can say that only after reaching the middle point of the book. In fact, if I were not tasked with writing this review I would not have read that far. But I do not regret that I pushed through.
The narrator from the outset seems unreliable, and that not-quite-right feeling that he elicits made me immediately wary of him. But the question is, how many of us would look back on the adolescents we were and totally trust them with all their self-centeredness and bad behavior (or thoughts, for those not quite bold enough to act on them). That is the starting point for Walsh, it is a dark journey into the mind of a tween to teenager. And there is a beauty there as well, a magic that you can’t quite appreciate until it is well and over. Walsh writes right in the pulse of that, detailing the paradoxes of youth and the fuzzy nature of memory.
Without ruining it, Walsh waits until the very last moment to reveal his purpose and the nature of his narrator. I was in fact, impatient and skipped to the end in order to go back to enjoy the middle. I needed to know that there would be some sort of closure. And Walsh so beneficently provided, closing the journey in a most unexpected manner that restored some of my faith in men and mankind.