• My Sunshine Away

  • By: M.O. Walsh
  • Narrated by: Kirby Heybourne
  • Length: 10 hrs and 26 mins
  • 3.8 out of 5 stars (451 ratings)

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My Sunshine Away  By  cover art

My Sunshine Away

By: M.O. Walsh
Narrated by: Kirby Heybourne
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Publisher's Summary

The instant New York Times best seller.

In the summer of 1989, a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom, is rocked by a violent crime when 15-year-old Lindy Simpson - free spirit, track star, and belle of the block - is attacked late one evening near her home. As the dark side of this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia is revealed, the close-knit neighborhood is irreversibly transformed.

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 pause-resisting debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive.

©2015 M.O. Walsh (P)2015 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

Named A Book of the Year by NPR, The Dallas Morning News, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist.

An Entertainment Weekly "must list" pick.

"A tantalizing mystery and a tender coming-of-age story...Unputdownable." (Oprah.com

What listeners say about My Sunshine Away

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 3 Stars
    83
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

'I dreamt I held you in my arms...'


Another debut novel, and my faith in new authors continues to brighten -- and I say that after(struggling) listening to a story, that was somber from the opening sentence and weighed on me with almost every page. Therefore, I've given a lot of thought about how to approach this review without discouraging a possible reader. What sustains me through a read as difficult as this was is not only a strong story, writing and characters -- all those necessary elements Walsh does keenly -- it's the take away, the message, the lesson, and, while more nuanced than Aesop's moral, the no less present, moral of the story. My Sunshine Away is a story with a very nuanced message, or moral, that is especially relevant and necessary, handled with kid-soft gloves, (you can only see once you look back over what you just read).

Walsh skillfully sets up the listener at the very beginning with the assault, then gorges them with emotions by having you believe the story is being told directly to you by this 15 yr. old neighbor boy considered a suspect. In addition to the opening offense, it may be difficult to hear what teenage boys do behind locked bathroom doors, so bluntly. You'll wonder if the revelation of those raging hormones is necessary...it is to the narrator. Considered a suspect, his story feels confessional, both pleading his case and clearing his conscience.

The rape brings the real and gritty world crashing into the unspoiled neighborhood. Walsh creates a community of children suddenly stripped of their innocence and thrust into the darkest aspects of adulthood. As the days move away from the crime life is compounded with the normal adversities of acne, popularity, divorce, child abuse (one incident of very sad animal abuse).

The author clearly understands the teenage mind and capably balances the naiveté and discovery, but I was constantly struck by Walsh's amazing knack for subtly. His ability to take severe traumatic episodes and delicately weave them into the development of these teens gives the story the slightest bit of tenderness in the maelstrom. It is a captivating read that kept me so in the moment that I didn't do my usual detective-as-you-go. The signs are certainly there--but I told you...Walsh is subtle. I got caught up in the imaginings and suspicions of the teenage sleuth. It's not until the ending of the story that you finally hear who the story is for, and why. The *why* is that saving grace that brings light and hope to the novel. Difficult? Indeed, I almost quit, but with the conclusion, and looking back and taking the story as a whole -- it was remarkable. With so much in the headlines of violence against women and accountability, this is a little novel that slams the point across.

The narration is done well. The flow between chapters itself is sometimes appropriately abrupt and that is made more obvious with an audio production, but no fault of author or narrator, and does not detract from the story. It's not for everyone, but I'm so glad I found this novel and stuck with it. Walsh shows here a talent with some real staying power.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Remarkable Retrospective on Becoming a *True* Man

Some books are so piercing, so damn good that one hesitates to write a review, for fear that he cannot do that novel justice by failing to adequately convey the effect on him and how it caused so much self-reflection. But, here goes:

I truly love this book. It is so many things: suspenseful, literary, coming-of-age. And yet, it doesn't fit neatly into one, rather it transcends categorization. It is, most of all, a melody to the evolution of young teen into man, a man of character, of morals, and of responsibility to his children and the women in his life: a real father to his kids, a devoted husband to his wife, a caring son to his mother and a brother grateful for his sisters.

A retrospective traveling the path of progress toward manhood through the burning memories of first love, the pain of losing it, juvenile mistakes and self-doubts, going from innocence to the teen male's idolatry of sex and objectification of females, the protagonist learns life's hard lessons via a host of females and their relationships to the wrong kind of men, including his mother who was abandoned by his adulterous and absent father, his sister who had a penchant for abusive boyfriends, and his first love who was raped and struggled to move on.

This lyrical Louisiana novel was so true to me and so eloquent.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Creepy angst

I’m afraid I have to throw a wet blanket on the love fest over this book. For me there were just too many problems with how the story was rolled out.

I was intrigued by the premise of an atmospheric (Louisiana) mystery mixed with coming-of-age in the face of tragic events. This story could have taken place in any upper middle class neighborhood in any city, any state. No atmosphere beyond frequent comments about mosquitos and an essentially irrelevant chapter comparing Baton Rouge to New Orleans that pretty much proved my point by describing Baton Rouge as the normal city compared to New Orleans’ exoticism. Having a narrator without even the hint of a southern accent put the nail in that coffin.

The majority of the story is taken up with the un-named narrator’s pathetic angst over the object of his obsession. And the obsession goes beyond creepy even within the norms of hormone driven teenage fantasy. Much of his fantasizing is fairly explicit and bears no resemblance to love or even a recognition of right and wrong. A scene at a drunken party nearly made me quit the book altogether. For all of his apparent worship, the boy really just objectifies Lindy, leaving her an empty shell of a character. The first person narrative by a kid who has no insight or empathy means that we see everyone around him through his eyes – mean, selfish and emotionally disconnected.

I could not buy into the notion that his erratic behavior and the fact that he himself was a suspect in the rape (not a spoiler – we learn that in the first pages) did not prompt more engaged action by his parents. This was a string left dangling by the author – when damning evidence that led to suspecting the boy were discovered, the only response we hear about is his mother constantly crying. No one followed up, nothing was done.

Finally, the wrap up. Within the last hour of the book, suddenly all of the cookie crumbs are swept together into a pile and questions that should have been investigated years earlier are opened up, doors are unlocked and there’s the answer, and our narrator explains why this has made all the difference and he can see clearly now. I found it unbelievable and manipulative. And I don’t buy for one minute who he turns out to be writing his narrative to.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Impressive

Beautiful writing, suspenseful plot, had that un-putdownable urgency to find out what happened. And the narrator did a very adequate job. BUT why on earth didn't he have a southern accent? You don't set a location in a very specific place with lots of local references and then hire a reader without a trace of an accent from that place! Good grief. Do better next time, whoever-picked-this-reader!

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Had to force myself to finish

This book got excellent reviews as a finely nuanced southern novel. I thought it a melodramatic mess and although I generally like this narrator--the husband in Gone Girl, this time he was reduced to petulant whining throughout. The overall experience was a downer story about an unbelievable and unlike able set of characters I only hope I can easily forget.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Truthful journey to manhood...raw...very real

This is a story of my city....my school....my friends....with all the little deep dark secrets I never knew. This book may be about a boy growing up and his perfect world changing before his eyes....but to me it was a story that touched my heart and soul and brought back memories of black smoke rising from my school, milk crates, parties after dances, friends I haven't seen since graduation....memories of a childhood.

The narrator does a good job. He is not perfect but he is still very good.

This book is a mystery...and a coming of age....a little dark....but it's honest. I can't wait for more from M.O. Walsh.

Worth a credit for sure!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Get on with the story!

While I found this story entertaining, I found the writing to be verbose. Often times I just wanted to the author to get on with details of the story. Sometimes it went on entirely too long with details that were irrelevant.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautifully Written Atmospheric Novel

Set in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the late eighties and early nineties, this rich atmospheric novel unfolds like a mystery. Gripping from the opening line, My Sunshine Away blends beautifully descriptive writing with thrilling suspense. The story comes together through the adolescent memories of the narrator, a neighborhood boy infatuated with Lindy Simpson – the athletic and popular teen that lives down just down his suburban street. Lindy is brutally raped one summer evening, and the narrator happens to be one of the four suspects in the unspeakable crime. With glowing praise from best-selling authors Katheryn Stockett and Anne Rice, this debut novel is not to be missed.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not on the bandwagon

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

No. Why? Didn't enjoy it, particularly disappointed in light of all the gushing reviews who apparently felt it was chic to like this rather clumsy and in the end, boring novel.

If you’ve listened to books by M.O. Walsh before, how does this one compare?

Not applicable.

Which scene was your favorite?

The End.

Could you see My Sunshine Away being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

What a silly question.

Any additional comments?

Again, it's clear that Audible has turned its reader "Reviews" into silly questionnaires obviously designed to head off or minimize negative reviews that might depress its sales of a mediocre book or one with narrow appeal. I get my Reviews from professionals, scan the Narration ratings for an Audiobook, then decide. I pay no attention to the nonsensical Audible questionnaires..

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Extremely Depressing With a Different Perspective

I pre-ordered 'My Sunshine Away' by M.O Walsh because of the description of the book, and the recommendations by some of my favourite authors. I think that Kirby Heybourne did a decent job narrating the novel, although his voice lulled me to sleep a few times.

The story centers around a young boy who's coming of age, and he's in love with the girl next store. In fact, obsessed is probably a better word. The story draws you in, because the girl of the story tellers dreams gets raped- and our boy is a suspect. The book then narrates the story of the time the boy experience before the rape and after, with his crush Lindy.

Other things that happen are extremely depressing. We have divorce, arguments, abused children and fatal car accidents- it's really not an uplifting story in the least.

The prose are beautiful and the novel has a soul- the soul is tragic, however it is also touching, loving and remarkable. This audiobook tore me from wanting to be angry with the story to feeling so much empathy for the boy narrating the book. His raw honesty is refreshing and very touching.

This wasn't my favourite listen and I was somewhat disappointed by the depression factor, but it's definitely worth the time.

3 stars across the board

5 people found this helpful