Review: Where the Stars Still Shine – Trish Doller

Release Date: September 24th 2013
Published By: Bloomsbury
Pages: 352
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: 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 a small town in 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 trueInsert synopsis

Review: Callie has spent her whole life living in a way that is not only undesirable, but has also damaged her in ways that she doesn’t even realise. As a young child, her mother kidnapped her, and since then they have been living on the run. Callie and her mother have never settled anywhere, Callie has never had a friend or been to school, her mother has gone from job to job and barely able to put food on the table or a roof over their head, and in an attempt to live a “normal life”, she has allowed her child to be hurt in ways that she cannot fathom.

Where the Stars Still Shine begins with Callie and her mother in another dead-end situation, and ready to flee at a moments notice. It is upon their next “adventure” that Callie’s mother is pulled over for a routine issue, and her past comes back to bite her. Callie is then shipped off to another life – a life where she has a devoted father, and large loving family, a stable home and where she can live a normal life – in other words, a life that Callie has never dared imagined and has no understanding on how to live in. Callie struggles to understand the life that she has meant to have, the friends and family that she has not seen in over 10 years and she battles to both resent her mother for robbing her of this life and loving her mother as the only thing she has ever known.

Callie’s feelings and reactions to situations is utterly realistic of a young person (well anyone really) having their life totally turned inside out. She struggles to comprehend how her mother could deprive her of the love of her father, but yet she cannot find herself hating her mother like most people around her do. She finds that having a best friend is much harder than she ever imagined. And she also finds herself falling for a guy who treats her better than any other boy she has ever met – and while she cannot believe that a guy would really be interested in her in the way he seems to be, she cannot help but wanting him to.

Haunted by memories, Callie must learn to accept and to be accepted, which is where Callie’s real struggle lies. I loved the realism in both Callie’s reaction and feelings to her situation, as well as the actions of those around her who suddenly find themselves in a situation they never thought they would be in. I especially felt for Callie’s dad – he has always loved her and wanted her back, but she is far from the little girl he remembers her to be. He brilliantly manoeuvres his way through playing both the respectful and understanding father, but also actually being a father. He understands that Callie has been through a lot, and is willing to give her the room she needs to deal with her situation, but he also needs to be her father and to set down some ground rules. And while he must be aching inside just longing inside to have the loving daughter he has always dreamt about, he finds himself suddenly with a scared, independent teenage daughter – but he manages to both give her the distance and support she needs, as well as include her in his established family situation.

Callie is certainly messed up – her life has been far from normal, and this has certainly affected her views on (and ability to have) normal relationships. Especially ones with boys. Callie and Alex’s relationship starts in very different way to most of those in YA books – it actually starts with a one-night stand. While this is not the traditional way to meet the “love interest”, I actually found this to be quite refreshing, and also endearing as Callie and Alex got to know each other (outside of the sheets).

This contemporary book does contain mature themes and is filled with relatable emotions, conflicting feelings, real problems, big issues, interesting characters and true-to-life situations. And a real ending. Yes, a real ending – not something that is nicely wrapped up in a bow. While I didn’t need the full happy-ever-after, I would have liked just a tiny little bit more from the ending – but that would have taken away from the realness. The ending nicely compliments the tone of this book, leaving you with a sense of joy, sadness, unanswered questions, and hope.

 

Quotes:

“There are so many maybes in life, but sometimes you just have to put your faith in possibility.”

“All week I’ve wanted just three things: hot wings, cold beer, and you.”

“Their family is perfect and happy, and I wonder if there is room in the picture for a seventeen-year-old girl. Do I want to be in that picture? Do I have a choice?”

“How could my mom be so selfish? Taking the pills would have kept us here. Taking the pills would have kept her from hooking up with Frank. All she had to do was take the goddamn pills and her life, my life, would have been ordinary. Happy.”

”And here I thought I was your first mermaid.”
“Goddess,” he says. “You are my first goddess.”

What do you think?

  • Cait D says:

    I’ve seen this one around a bit…but hadn’t read a review yet. It sounds really good! And I haven’t read anything like that premise before. o.O Awesome. I’m always up for something different. :)

  • Wattle says:

    You’ve just added to the great things I’ve heard about this book, thank you for your great review :) it’s definitely moved the book up on my list!

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