Friday, October 4, 2013

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Where the Stars Still Shine
by Trish Doller
Read: September 24 - 25, 2013
Published: September 24, 2013 Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: NetGalley - THANK YOU!
Category: Contemporary YA (Mature)
Find: Goodreads | 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 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 true.




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I've had Where the Stars Still Shine on my kindle for months, and finally read it the day the book released. I loved Trish Doller's debut Something Like Normal, and heard really great things about her second novel, but for some reason I was paralyzed by it. Rumors of an "open ending" and big issues, made me wary. Instead of fretting, I wish I'd just opened this book and started reading, because it's good. And not at all scary, if you're wondering. This is one of those "what was I thinking?" moments, where I psyched myself out unnecessarily. Though maybe that just made the book all the sweeter when I finally read it. 

What struck me most about Where the Stars Still Shine is how real it feels. How honestly all the characters were drawn. They are complicated and messy, but that just made them more true. Even Callie's mom, who is painted in mostly negative ways, was complex. She's definitely a crappy mother, but is also struggling with a serious mental illness. Although that's not an excuse, it was impossible for me to hate her. In fact, this book is filled with richly drawn characters: Callie's dad Greg, her cousin and new friend Kat, the feisty bookstore owner Ariel, and of course Alex Kosta, are just a few you'll meet. 

Before I started this book, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to connect to Callie, because we're so different. But I was able to sympathize with her immediately. Callie's distress at going from always on the run with only her mother, to living with her dad in a town where everyone knows everyone else and has lived there forever, is a palpable struggle for her. She has never lived in a place long enough to become attached to it or the people there, and so she has to figure out simple things like what it means to be a friend, how to relate to a parent who worries when she disappears without telling him, and what are normal behaviors when a guy says he likes you.  

The romance in this story began quickly, and it made me a tad uncomfortable at first. However, in the context of Callie's life I could understand it, and I ended up falling for Alex as much as Callie did. They both have big issues to deal with and neither is perfect, but they are also surprisingly really good for each other. Coming from a family of divers, I greatly appreciated Alex's connection to diving, and loved learning all about sponges. The day he takes Callie snorkeling is one of my favorite moments in the book. 

Although Callie undergoes some pretty serious changes throughout this story what I love most is that the author doesn't try to fix her. Or anyone else for that matter. Life is an ongoing process and people are still messy. Instead of feeling depressed by by the way this story ended, I felt hopeful. Things are going to be okay for Callie, or rather, better than okay. For that, I think the ending of Where the Stars Still Shine is rather perfect. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 


13 comments:

  1. Aw, beautiful review! I'm so glad this book resonated with you as much as it did me, L:)

    I love this:

    "
    Although Callie undergoes some pretty serious changes throughout this story what I love most is that the author doesn't try to fix her. Or anyone else for that matter. Life is an ongoing process and people are still messy. Instead of feeling depressed by by the way this story ended, I felt hopeful. Things are going to be okay for Callie, or rather, better than okay. "

    Yes! It took me a bit longer than you to feel happy about the open ending but now I think it was absolutely perfect. I think Callie (and Alex and Callie) are going to be fine too:)

    "

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    1. What's up with all the misplaced quotations marks?? Sorry! :)

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  2. I can see how it would be impossible to hate someone with a mental illness, regardless of their actions. All the reviews so far pointed out the incredible realness of this book and I'm so relieved to see that you agree. My copy arrived just yesterday (people at TBD can be so slow sometimes) and I sincerely hope I'll like it just as much as you did.
    Gorgeous review, Lauren.

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  3. Lauren, I'm so glad you loved this one! Alex won me over from the moment he walked onto the page, but I can see how readers struggled with the direction their relationship took at first. I really love both its growth and its very realistic end. I loooove what you said about Callie still being so imperfect and flawed by the end of the novel, despite her growth. I think Doller really hits the nail on the head with that - with making people just as messy as they were before, but also changed at the same time. I absolutely LOVED this one and I can't wait to re-read it again soon. It's such a lovely feel-good read. Wonderful review, Lauren!(:

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  4. I love the last sentence :) Or the whole paragraph for that matter. I adored Rachel's review at The Reader's Den and I loved yours :) I'm so happy you enjoyed this pretty and I can't wait to jump into it.

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  5. Wonderful review, Lauren! This did feel real and the ending did as well even though it was open ended, I did feel hopeful as well. Glad that you enjoyed this, too! I actually hoping for an extra novella or short story for these two, and speaking about it on twitter, and Trish Doller said it could happen! Nice, right?!

    Siiri's comment above is so very nice!

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  6. I loved the ending. I thought it really worked for the story and that anything else wouldn't have been as perfect. Great review.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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  7. You make me want to read this even more than I already do! I am not a fan of books that "fix" characters. Life is so messy and part of growing up is accepting that and being okay with it... deciding which messes to clean up so to speak. I think I'm tired, this is probably a weird comment.

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  8. I agree about the ending. I loved its lack of resolution. Anything else would have made it corny or cliched or just not very good. And yes, the characters really made this book. I'm glad that your fears were unnecessary and you did end up really enjoying this one, Lauren! Lovely review. :)
    The subject matter has put me off of reading Something Like Normal, but I did like Where the Stars Still Shine and SO many people loved Something Like Normal that I just may have to give it a shot eventually.

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  9. I was uncomfortable with her relationship with Alex too, but it didn't bother me that much because Alex was one charmer and I fell in love with him from the first page. My issue was with Callie, more specifically with my inability to connect with her. Though I did love Greg, he was such a great father. I'm glad that you ended up loving this book regardless of her initial hesitation. Great review, Lauren!

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  10. I just read this one over the weekend and haven't reviewed it yet. However, I totally agree on how rich these characters are! I love how Trish writes her characters - even the "bad" ones are complex and multi-layered. The beginning of Alex and Callie's relationship also made me a little uncomfortable, but I did think it was believable for Callie's character.

    And this: "Although Callie undergoes some pretty serious changes throughout this story what I love most is that the author doesn't try to fix her. Or anyone else for that matter. Life is an ongoing process and people are still messy. Instead of feeling depressed by by the way this story ended, I felt hopeful." Clearly I'm going to have to quote you in my review because that just absolutely nailed it!

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  11. Oh, good. I've been putting this one off for the same reasons, but you've given me hope that I'll love it as much as I did Something Like Normal. I wish I had time this week, but it'll probably have to wait a little longer. :( Thanks for assuaging my doubts!

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  12. Such a wonderful review, Lauren. I also loved the realness of this book, from story to characters, just like Something Like Normal. And you're totally spot on about Trish not trying to fix her characters or make them perfect, which is probably another reason they're so real. I loved the ending, btw. :)

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