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.
Loved, loved, loved this book! It was everything I was hoping for and more. It had fun, it had serious issues, it had a great romance, it had a cute boy. It was so clearly a Trish Doller book that I was swooning from page one.
Where the Stars Still Shine, is the story of Callie, a girl that was taken by her mother when she was just a small child. She has been on the run, going from place to place, for as long as she can remember. Callie hasn’t gone to school in years, hasn’t had a stable home life and has been eating out of vending machines while carrying around a secret of her own. But when life finally catches up with Callie and her mom, Callie suddenly finds herself back in Florida with her dad who she thought didn’t want her and with a family that is thrilled to have her back. Now Callie must find her place among these familiar strangers and make peace with her past and her future. And with a hot sponging boy sparking her interest it’s possible she may just be able to do that.
One of the things I love most about Doller’s writing is her ability to jump right into the heavy stuff. Some writer’s will toe the line with the issues or the emotional aspects, but Doller doesn’t seem to do that. She told us what life on the run was like for Callie and how damaged she was by some of the stuff that happened to her. Things weren’t sunshine and roses after she was taken like you see in a Lifetime movie. There was real depth and hurt and psychological damage there. And the way that Callie chose to deal with the things that had happened to her showed all the more how damaged she was. Instead of telling someone or talking about it Callie used sex as her means of coping and I 100% understood her reaction and why she did what she did.
The other thing Ms. Doller does amazingly is creating a cute boy. She has the ability to bring an amazingly swoonworthy boy to life with just a few words. She did it with Travis in Something Like Normal and has done it again with Alex in Where the Stars Still Shine. Alex was everything that Callie needed and she was everything he needed. Both hiding for life and their past, they leaned on each other and learned to trust and love and have faith in people and the world in general. It really was truly remarkable to see the two of them interact. Don’t get me wrong, the baggage was there, but something about the two of them together could make you forget and just enjoy the love fest. Was their story perfect? Not by any means. But it was really a great relationship that unfolded and that made it perfect for me.
Like any book there were things I wasn’t crazy about 100%, but that didn’t really matter to me. That was just the small stuff. In the long run it didn’t mean anything. Where the Stars Still Shine was an amazing book and it was real and that is all that is important. Doller did what Doller does best and created a story that will stay with you long after you are done and I thank her for that and think you will too.
*discussion post with Michelle from Galleysmith will appear in the future.