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Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
A Ribbon of Sand by Mike Shannon is a gripping coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of a small island off the coast of South Carolina in 1982. Fifteen-year-old Ash Howe is unique in his neighborhood. He has long hair, loves heavy metal music, and doesn’t seem to blend in socially. Ash struggles with bullying at school and his studies are challenged by his undiagnosed ADHD. However, two significant factors begin to shape his existence: his unrequited crush on Ally, a girl seemingly out of his league, and the eerie presence of a local ghost believed to haunt an abandoned lighthouse on a neighboring uninhabited island. When he finds himself alone in the lighthouse one night, mysterious happenings change the course of his life forever and that of his community.
There is so much that I loved in Mike Shannon's A Ribbon of Sand. Ash is a flawed protagonist that readers will root for. The relationship with Ally is well-written and readers will have sympathy for him as he struggles to connect with her because she loves high social status. The setting is wonderfully accomplished, written with fine details about the locales. The uninhabited island that attracts Ash’s attention will intrigue readers. Shannon excels at exploring strong themes, including racism and the social tension that simmers beneath the façade of a seemingly serene community. The author melds magical realism and strong elements of coming of age to provide entertainment for readers. I enjoyed the robust characters, the crisp writing, and the setting that comes to life in the minds of readers.