Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is one of those books that just grabs you from the very beginning and doesn’t let go until you turn the last page. Even then I wanted more. Doller does a fabulous job of bringing the reader into Callie’s world and I have to admit, this is my first book by her but it will not be the last.
Callie was taken from her family at the age of 5 by her mother and has been living on the run. With a broken taillight, her mother is arrested and suddenly, after 12 years, Callie is introduced to a family she doesn’t really know. I just wanted to give Callie a great big hug…she probably wouldn’t have wanted it but I felt like she really needed one (or five).
On her first day back, understandably, Callie becomes overwhelmed – her family is Greek and they all really do care about her. She decides to go for a walk to the docks and comes across Alex Kosta where there appears to be an instant connection. It’s implied that Alex is a player – he is also gorgeous. I loved him. He is going through some tough family things as well and Doller made me want to give him hugs too…and maybe more. I mean, come on – a guy who says “All week I’ve wanted just three things: hot wings, cold beer, and you.” But seriously, when he starts saying things in Greek… big sighs.
Alex and Callie together are great. They bring out sides of each other that they don’t really feel like they can share with anyone else and I loved their trip snorkeling. Bit by bit, their connection becomes more than just physical attraction. They are drawn to each other and begin to share the things about themselves that no one else really knows.
Callie’s relationship with her mother is tough. Her mom clearly has issues and at times I was so angry with her and the way she treated Callie. I know she has a disease but I could feel Callie’s pain when she found out that if she had only taken her medication, Callie could have had a “normal” childhood. It was the fact that she decided what she wanted was more important than what was best for her child and when she destroyed the book – I was angry on the behalf of both Callie and Greg.
Callie’s father, Greg, is great. It is clear he is trying to adjust to the sudden addition of a seventeen year old girl to his family. He was trying so hard and Callie didn’t know how to adapt to someone actually caring about where she goes and what she does. In my mind, eventually Callie tells him everything that happened while she was gone and they have the opportunity to heal together.
Kat is great for Callie – she loves her and although she doesn’t completely understand what Callie has been through, she is trying. She is also very patient. Callie is slowly learning what it means to have a friend and how what she says and does impacts those around her.
Definitely go get this one when you can. I don’t want to give everything away so my review doesn’t go into a lot of detail – just know that this is about family, love, healing, and so many more things that you won’t be able to put it down once you have started it.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing the ARC.
It’s near impossible to write reviews for books that I love. I always worry that I won’t explain fully to those of you reading it about why I think you should spend your money on a copy.
Where the Stars Still Shine falls into this category of book for me. I’ve actually had this book since early May. I read it even before going to BEA, and since then, I’ve opened up documents and attempted writing down my feelings about it over and over. I might probably still be staring at a blank document if the book wasn’t coming out next week and I felt compelled to share my feelings!
This book begins with Callie on the road with her mom. For as long as she can remember it’s been the two of them, moving from city to city, barely making it. But a chance traffic stop changes everything that Callie has known. Her mom is accused of kidnapping her and she’s handed over to a complete stranger.
The man standing in the sheriff’s office lobby the next day – the one with his hands jammed deep in the pockets of his jeans – is a stranger, but I recognize him the same way I recognize my own face.”
Her father has been looking for her since the day she was taken from him and his family and having Callie back can only be a blessing. Suddenly she’s thrust into a huge Greek family she never had the chance to know… in the span of a few days she goes from having one person in her life to more than she can count. But she is haunted by the things in her past… and her mother. But we also see how she worries that there just isn’t room in his life for her.
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?
Seeing her struggle with where she fits in and how she fits in was hard at times, but so wonderfully done in my opinion. But while Callie’s attempt at finding her new life and overcoming her past is the main part of this story, it’s so much more than that. As you read, you’ll reveal layer after layer of different pieces of this story.
I have to tell you about Alex.
He has a blue bandana tied around his dirty-blond curls, and when he bends down for another sponge, there’s a sweat-stained spot on his grey shirt where it sticks between his shoulder blades. He glances up, and his face is something so fine and beautiful, it makes my chest ache the way it does when I hear a sad song or finish a favorite book.
Now picture this.
Alex hasn’t had it easy… he’s got his own story to tell and I’m not going to tell much about it here, but the connection he and Callie have was so amazingly done. They both are mature beyond their years… they’ve had to be. And while there is enough sweet and swoon in this story:
”All week I’ve wanted just three things: hot wings, cold beer, and you.”
”And here I thought I was your first mermaid.”
“Goddess,” he says. “You are my first goddess.”
There is more to their relationship than that. They lean on each other and along the way I think they learn that you have to be willing to open yourself up to the people in your lives.
The secondary characters here were also really well done. From Kat the best friend, to her father, to Yiayoula (grandma) we are exposed to some wonderful and amazing characters. And in a YA world where parents are rarely present I loved that we got to see so much of her father and his attempts to make her see how much he missed her and only wants her in his life however that may end up being. He never forces her into things and that was lovely to see.
On that note, I think I’m going to leave this review… I don’t want to say too much, I feel like I’ve said too little. But I do hope that you all run out and get your copy of this on the day it releases. I think you’ll fall in love with the wonderful characters that Doller has created and the realistic way she’s written them.
I would like to note that this book deals with some pretty heavy topics, sexual abuse, mental illness things that you might want to be warned of ahead of time. But they were handled perfectly, never overdone or in a way just to stir drama.
Thank you to Trish for the advanced copy. Someday I imagine I’ll get it back from Meg. (LOL)