Review: Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Where The Stars Still Shine
by: Trish Doller
Publication Date: Sept. 24, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Age Group: Mature Young Adult
Source: e-ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 308 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 5/5 stars
This was my first book by Trish Doller and I can definitely say it will NOT be my last. The characters Doller has created, the emotions she evoked from them, and the journey that they all go on is not one to be missed.
I cannot even for one minute understand what our main character Callie had to be going through. She has lived such a difficult life- always on the move with her mother, never experiencing a normal childhood, living in less than desirable conditions and learning at too young of an age how to survive. Let's be honest: Callie has had her childhood stolen from her. She is haunted by events in her past that, had her mother been more responsible, probably never would have happened. Despite everything, Callie is a warrior. But what I loved most of all? She's real. Doller doesn't create this unbelievable main character. While Callie may be haunted by memories of her past, she doesn't let them completely define and consume her. Yes, some of her choices and actions are a result of what happened, but overall, her moving back to Florida and learning how to readjust to a new family and a father she doesn't truly know and how she handles everything is all her. Yet as this new life beckons her and wants to embrace her with open arms, Callie cannot forget her past or her mother. She feels guilty for leaving her mother behind and when she is starting to let the chains of her time with her mom fall away, she feels that guilt again and my heart broke for her.
Meeting Alex Kosta was one of the absolute brightest spots for Callie. Granted, what I originally thought was going to be something fleeting between them turned into this beautiful relationship that really pulled Callie back to the surface and out of her despair. Alex is one of the first people she's been with intimately who has actually shown tenderness to her and affection- not making her feel used up and cheap like her previous sexual encounters. Even though their relationship started out physical, it became so much more and even though Alex has been coined as a playboy, I am so glad it wasn't the case. Callie had enough things to deal with- I don't know that I could have handled Alex breaking her heart because he didn't really have true feelings for her. The way their story ends is bittersweet, but I am going to cling to the implication of hope that Doller has provided us.
Family is such a huge theme in this story and I loved that! Too often YA glazes over the importance of their MC's families and Doller could have easily turned this into nothing but a love story and she didn't. This isn't just a love story. This is a story about a girl finding her way back to a father she had been taken from and learning how to readjust and live her life after a lifetime of always being on the move. For the first time ever, Callie is learning what security is- what it's like to have people in her life that will not abandon and leave her to face the darkness alone. Doing all this is not easy. Her father is essentially a stranger to her. He has a new family who also has to adjust to having Callie become a part of their home and family. Her dad also has to learn how to be a father to a teenage girl. A teenage girl who has never once been held accountable or had limitations. It's definitely challenging and Greg is more than willing to go the distance. He doesn't give up on her and it is through unconditional, yet tough love that he is able to wear down those defenses and get her to let him in.
Kat, Callie's cousin, was another great character. She was a bit much at times and was almost a bit forceful with her cousin. However, as with Callie's dad, Kat only has her memories of Callie to go on. They don't know the person she has become and they are reverting back to what they do know, which doesn't really work. Yet, this is a learning experience for them and watching them discover who Callie is now is really awesome. Kat had always wanted that closeness with her cousin- to grow up, having sleepovers, talking about boys, etc. Now that she is back, Kat wants them to be able to become those best friends and Callie just needs a bit more time to ease into something like that.
My absolute favorite scene in this book is when Alex takes her snorkeling. He even makes the comment that watching her marvel at small things he's taken for granted is something to behold. And I couldn't agree more with him. That day was such a beautiful day for them together and her coming clean with Alex telling him about what happened to her when she was younger was so liberating for her. It wasn't an easy conversation, yet I felt Alex was the one person she needed to tell, because he didn't even hesitate in believing her and that was the affirmation she desperately needed.
Guys. I just don't know what more I can say. If I haven't convinced you to read this yet, then I don't even know. This is such a beautiful, realistic story about second chances, hope, and forgiveness and you just need to read it. And the Greek influence is beyond awesome! I love the one-liners in Greek and learning about some of their traditions. It was definitely a bonus to an already awesome story!