September 12, 2013

Title: Where the Stars Still Shine

Author:  Trish Doller ♥ @TrishDoller

Published: September 24, 2013

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

Pages: 352

Source: NetGalley

Summary from Goodreads: 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.

* “Trish Doller writes strong, gutsy characters that you can’t help caring for and Callie is no exception. Her journey is heartbreaking and powerful.” —Melina Marchetta, Printz Award winning author of Jellicoe Road

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 09/11/2013): 4.17

  • Christina thought this title was refreshingly honest. It goes on her second shelf.

**Special Note:** An e-ARC of this title was provided by the publishers via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review an any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this galley and not from the published version.

Initial Thoughts and Rating: 4 Stars! I like the simple complexity of this story. Nothing felt overdone, but it felt real. There were characters, especially younger adults, making stupid decisions and learning from their mistakes. I liked it. Plus, I think every girl could use a guy like Alex in their life, if only to call them a goddess and to kiss them breathless.

The Lowdown: As you can gather from the summary, Callie has lived a life many would consider to be way outside the realms of normal. Kidnapped- though it was, it also kind of wasn’t- by her mother, the duo spent their time traveling the states, hiding out in every little corner, surviving on meager meals and little to no money. Callie doesn’t know the luxuries of a home or sometimes even a bed, she doesn’t know anything of family, small comforts, or even about what it is to receive an education since she hasn’t been enrolled in school since kindergarten. But when a routine traffic stop lands her mother in a whole heap of trouble, Callie finally reunites with a father she barely remembers and learns of a life she never had… or even knew she was missing and wanted.

Transported to sunny Florida, Callie learns to become Callista- a girl from a large Greek family who has to accept hard truths of her past so that she can thrive in her future. And possibly in all that, she’ll find herself and maybe even love.

My Thoughts: Though I’ve heard rave reviews of Doller’s other novels, this was the first book of hers that I read and it did not disappoint. I was immediately pulled into Callie’s new world alongside her, riding the tempestuous roads of her struggles to embrace a life of rules and responsibilities she’s expected to carry. To further complicate things, she’s having to adjust to her recent overwhelming life-change all while understanding newly discovered revelations about her mom’s health and conquering those hidden truths she’s fought to keep buried. I loved the honesty in her story and the raw, realistic approach in which the author delivered it.

One of the biggest reasons I liked this book so much is because it was packed to the brim with lively and lovely characters that I grew to be quite fond of by the end. Among a larger portion of contemporaries out there, I’ve been hard pressed to find one that had a main character who was surrounded by a loving, supportive family. So, imagine my surprise when I found that I truly loved Callie’s father, and eventually her step-mom. It was nice to see and feel the love that he had for her radiate off of every page. You could tell from the beginning that he had a large heart and missed her and that he was just good. And of course with him, you get a whole host of cousins and aunts and a very special grandmother that was waiting to nurture and love her to make up for all those years that spent apart.

On a separate note, this is a book that deals with a lot of sensitive subjects- mental illnesses, various types of abuse and how it affects the victims- but I thought each was handled appropriately. It never read to me that it was thrown in for the sake of creating the plot, but rather, that it was just a part of who those characters were and how it shaped their decisions. I appreciated the delicacy in how Ms. Doller wrote these storylines into the book.

My one little teeny-tiny hangup with this novel would have to be where Alex and Callie were concerned. I simply wanted to feel their chemistry more. I mean, I enjoyed their intimate scenes and when they spent time together because it was written well, but I never felt their connection as much as I had hoped I would. When things went south for them for a short period, I expected myself to be bawling. Yet, I never shed a tear, and I think it was because I wasn’t quite as invested in their relationship as much as I thought I should have been. This is only a minor issue because the romance was there, I just wanted a little more from it, I guess.

Swoons: There were a few sprinkled throughout, but mostly Alex was just deliciously described. I need to feel his curls with my own fingers.

♥ Swoony Teaser:

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

Verdict: I’d say don’t miss out on this one. It’s nice to read a realistically portrayed contemporary among all the great fantasy that’s out lately. However, I’d like to reiterate myself and say that there is mentions of sexual assault as well as some physical abuse in this novel for those that try to stir clear of those topics.

Also, can we just discuss the beauty that is that cover? Good, because I’m so unbelievably in love with it. I think it’d look pretty on your bookshelf, just sayin’.

♥ A very special thanks to Bloomsbury USA and NetGalley for allowing me to preview an early copy of this title.

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