I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Also by this author: The Devil You Know
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on 2013-09-24
Genres: Dating & Sex, Love & Romance, Physical & Emotional Abuse, Social Issues, Young Adult
Buy on Amazon
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she d like to forget completely. But when Callie s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life in small-town Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love even with someone who seems an improbable choice is more than just a possibility.Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.
Ah, my heart. I for serious need one of those IN CASE OF FEELS tissue boxes that Epic Reads has after finishing Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. I pretty much inhaled this book y’all. Like, here’s the thing, I don’t read ebooks all that fast because I don’t make them a priority. They are typically what I call back burner books, they matter and all, they just aren’t the first thing I reach for after a long day of being awesome. YET. I was totally diving for Where The Stars Still Shine during my snow day from work — kind of funny that I am typing this in February and you will be reading this in May. So it goes. When I look back at the books I read between now and approval on Netgalley, I could kick myself for reading so much crap instead of reading the bright and shining gem that Doller’s sophomore novel is. Friends, this book totally shines.
Since she was 5 years old, Callie has been on the run with her mother. You see, her mother believes that her dad is going to take full custody of Callie and not allow her to see Callie. So, they’ve lived all over the US and Callie has not had any sort of formal schooling. One day, it all catches up with them and Callie’s mother is arrested for driving a car with no insurance, expired plates, and no registration. At this time, the police discover that Callie is the same girl whose been missing from Tarpon Springs, Florida. Callie is then sent to live with her father, Greg, who is a virtual stranger. Greg has this giant Greek family and he’s also got a new wife, Phoebe, and two children, Tucker and Joe. Callie is super nervous and finds herself consistently overwhelmed, yet the family embraces her, mostly. Then there’s Kat, her cousin, who basically is like oh hey be my best friend and it just works because Kat is the crazy to Callie’s calm. OH OH OH and Tarpon Springs is a town that is known for a rich Greek community as well as a thriving Sponge tourism industry. And so, Callie meets a boy who goes sponge diving named Alex and well, let’s just say he has a reputation with the ladies. OH AND also, aside from the trauma of having a mother who has borderline personality disorder and thus moves Callie around constantly, she’s also experiencing PTSD from being molested as a young child. Where The Stars Still Shine is totally one of those books that contains feels in multitudes.
Oh my friends, you will love Callista. This girl. She gets under your skin and you start to feel this kind of deep empathy as you read about her. Like, it starts out with her talking about a laundromat and looking for something to drink and why on earth is the vending machine out. We learn about her most prized possessions, her books and her guitar. We learn that she loves Mandy by Julie Andrews (bless!) because Callie has good taste. She’s got her guard up so high. She doesn’t know how to be a friend or really how to be a part of a big family or in a healthy romantic relationship. What I love about Callie is that she stays unique, she’s not someone that I, as reader, judged. Instead of throwing her into high school, Doller opts to let her take the GED test. Callie walks her own path and I love that. I love that she’s got these conflicting feelings about her mother. I love that she acts out of trauma at certain junctures. I love that she needs to take these moments for herself. Straight up, I loved her character.
Fair warning, there are sexytimes in Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. I am totally okay with this. There are also bits which could potentially be triggering to molestation survivors, yet, ultimately, Callie is a fighter and we see that. The romance in Doller’s sophomore novel is quite unconventional, at least I felt it was. Callie is really into Alex who is older than her. He’s got this reputation as a man about town. The two get down and dirty on their second date, and you know, the way this plays out, the intimacy is very, very important to the story and to Callie’s development. I think that the two helped each other grow and well, I really liked how they connected and how their relationship was different from others that I’ve read. Also, there’s kind of a curveball that I was not expecting, but that I am okay with.
I guess to really sum it all up, Doller had won me over as a fan with Something Like Normal and essentially Where The Stars Still Shine solidifies that. There is so much to recommend this book. The writing is gorgeous and unadorned and engaging. The family interactions are flawless and touching and complicated, as families are. The romance is something different. There’s a book store that is totally awesome in this book. The friendship between Callie and Kat develops as Callie acclimates and learns what it’s like to be normal. There’s a grandma who is as FYA says, a “kickass gram”.