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Discussion Guide: Shine by Candy Gourlay


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Hello readers! I created this discussion guide for readers of SHINE, my young adult / teen novel. I hope teachers, librarians and readers of my book will find it useful. You can let me know what you think by messaging me on the contact form of my website If you have suggestions for more reference materials for SHINE, I would love to hear from you! (Watch out for the Philippine edition of Shine, out in September 2014)

Candy Gourlay

With thanks to:
David Dean for the rain background art on the slides. David also created the cover art for Shine.
Nasser Alzhrani for his photo of a boy in silhouette
Amancay Maahs for her photo of a keyboard
James Blann for his photo of rain lashed Aberystwyth
Premnath Thirumalaisamy for his photo of light streaming through an open door
Thanks to you all for making your images available on CC Attribution.

Published in: Education
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Discussion Guide: Shine by Candy Gourlay

  2. 2. Characters
  3. 3. Rosa
  4. 4. Rosa suffers from the Calm.
  5. 5. She lives on an island where people like her must hide away.
  6. 6. She can leave the island but she doesn’t want to …
  7. 7. … because she wants to see her mother’s ghost again.
  8. 8. Rosa is lonely and isolated but she doesn’t want to change her life. Why? Think
  9. 9. How does Rosa cope with her isolation? Would you be able to cope with being isolated like Rosa if you had the Internet? Think
  10. 10. Rosa’s desire to see her mother’s ghost is so powerful she is willing to give up her freedom. Why? Think
  11. 11. Is there something you want so much that you would be willing to give up a lot to get it? Think
  12. 12. Ansel95
  13. 13. Ansel95 is Rosa’s secret online friend.
  14. 14. He takes beautiful pictures and because of him, Rosa’s hidden life becomes bearable.
  15. 15. But he’s figured out where she lives … and now he wants to meet. But now he wants to meet up ...
  16. 16. But he’s figured out where she lives … and now he wants to meet. Rosa does not want to meet her only friend face to face. What is she afraid of? Think
  17. 17. But he’s figured out where she lives … and now he wants to meet. Rosa and Ansel95 develop false versions of themselves online. Why? How different are they from their online personas? Think
  18. 18. But he’s figured out where she lives … and now he wants to meet.Discuss how people portray themselves online. What about you? Do you pretend to be something you’re not? Why? How has the internet changed the way people see themselves? Think
  19. 19. Setting
  20. 20. Shine is set on Mirasol, an isolated island where it never stops raining.
  21. 21. When I started writing Shine, there were terrible floods in Manila where I grew up. I was struck by how floods that seemed such an ordinary part of life in the Philippines would be unthinkable in other places.
  22. 22. FLOOD  IN  MANILA,  2008  
  23. 23. I also read the short story All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury – about children who live on Venus where it never stops raining. And what happens when they meet another child who has actually seen the sun.
  24. 24. SCREEN  GRAB  FROM   THE  FILM  ‘ALL   SUMMER  IN  A  DAY’   If you get a chance to read All Summer in a Day – compare the Venus children to the people of Mirasol. Why did they treat Margot the way they did?
  25. 25. Unending rain is ordinary to the people of Mirasol. How do you think rain affects their culture, beliefs and way of life? Think
  26. 26. In a way, Mirasol is just as isolated as Rosa. If Mirasol were human, what sort of person would he or she be? Why? Did you get the sense that the island was also a character in the story? Why? Think
  27. 27. People on Mirasol are superstitious. They believe in ghosts.
  28. 28. A ghost is a trapped soul.
  29. 29. Think One could say that several of the characters in Shine are trapped souls. Which characters are trapped, and why?
  30. 30. When people ask me what Shine is about, I reply, ‘It’s a ghost story.’ But the blurb on the cover says: ‘This is not a ghost story. Though there are plenty of ghosts in it.’ Do you know what I mean?
  31. 31. Here is the cover blurb again: “This is not a ghost story. Though there are plenty of ghosts in it. And it’s not a horror story. Though some people might be horrified. It’s not a monster story either. Though there is a monster in it and that monster happens to be me.”
  32. 32. Think Who are the ghosts in Shine? Who are the monsters?
  33. 33. Windows and doors feature throughout the novel. Why? Think
  34. 34. Story
  35. 35. Shine is told in two voices. There are two plotlines that converge at the end. One of the stories is about twin sisters.
  36. 36. I was exploring many dualities: light and dark, happiness and sorrow, being the same and being different. Have you noticed the contrasts and oppositions in the story?
  37. 37. What do the the two plotlines within Shine share? Think
  38. 38. How are they different? Think
  39. 39. How did the two stories come together in the end? Think
  40. 40. It never stops raining in Mirasol. So why is the book called Shine? Think
  41. 41. Thank you for reading Shine. I hope this discussion guide got you thinking and made the story even more enjoyable.
  42. 42. If you liked Shine, try these: These are four hugely different books but they all share Shine’s theme of entrapment. And I loved reading them : left to right, a girl who has an invisible friend, a boy with Asperger's, teenagers trapped in a mountain and a boy escaping World War II Nazis.