Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: Where the Stars Still Shine

Where the Stars Still Shine
By Trish Doller
Published: September 24, 2013

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.

My review:

Where the Stars Still Shine reminded me a little bit of Dare You To by Katie McGarry because both protagonists come from difficult home lives but are protective of their messed up mothers. Callie finds it incredibly hard to adjust to living with her dad and yet in flashbacks we see just how bad things were with her mom. In their twisted and dysfunctional relationship, Callie both took care of her mom and was at her mother's mercy. They moved around a lot and she really struggled to survive but there were some good memories with her mom too. There is one really really dark memory however that makes it hard as a reader to feel any kind of sympathy for Callie's mom at all.

As a main character Callie isn't always easy to like. She makes some really bad decisions, doesn't respect her dad, and she is really quick to hook up with guys. This is understandable though because of her messed up childhood. She has to learn what is considered normal in family relationships and she has to learn to value herself. It was good to see Callie grow as a character and begin to heal.

Callie's Greek family is wonderful. They really welcome Callie and try to help her even when she is being difficult. Her cousin Kat extends the hand of friendship so many times even when Callie treats her like crap and even her step-mother Phoebe reaches out to her even though she has some reservations. I liked how close knit the family and community are. The secondary characters were well developed and I think really added to the story.

Callie's love interest is Alex, a young man who I wasn't a fan of at first but he won me over by his kindness to Callie. Their relationship is initially based on lust but evolves into genuine friendship and caring. Both of them have family issues and they help each other work through that. The scene where she finally tells him what happened to her was particularly touching.

I really felt for Callie and all the bad things she went through. It was hard and disturbing to read about her past but it was wonderful to see her begin to trust again and dream of a better life. Trish Doller writes in a way that really makes you understand Callie's emotions. I really cared about not just Callie but Kat and Callie's family as well. 

Overall I thought this was a really good YA contemporary novel that takes a hard look at abuse and complicated family relationships. I think this book may be more suited to mature teens due to the semi-graphic depictions of abuse as well as the sexual content but for those who are able to handle it, it is a story well worth reading. 

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher


  1. Ooh-new commenting layout! As you know, I'm reading this soon and I'm really excited to see your positive review of it. I'm curious about the comparison to Dare You To because I expect that book is a bit more melodramatic and I'm interested to see if I'll agree.

  2. Alex won me over, too. This book was great, and more powerful than I expected - and I loved her Greek family!

    Great review! Glad you enjoyed this one :)

  3. Fantastic review! I am really intrigued by this story. It seems like one that will tug on my heart strings and one that I'd enjoy...especially since you said it's similar to Dare You To. I like how you said that even though Callie made some poor decisions from time to time, you still cared about her, thanks to Doller's writing. I am looking forward to reading her other book, Something Like Normal. Have you read that one? I've heard good things about that book as well.


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