The Power of Family: Where the Stars Still Shine, Trish Doller

Where the Stars Still Shine

Where the Stars Still Shine

Trish Doller

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.

You’re going to get tired of hearing this soon enough, but Where the Stars Still Shine was — is — one of the best contemporaries I’ve read this year. This is my first book by well-known author Trish Doller (who also wrote Something Like Normal, released in 2012), and after getting utterly swept away by this one, I can assure you that this most certainly won’t be my last.

Summary: Callista, better known as just “Callie,” has never known much other than being always on the go with her paranoid mother. She and her mom are homeless, living on microwaveable food, and laundromats. Instead of knowing living skills, Callie has learned to wash her hair in sinks, teach herself basic knowledge from tattered books, and take care of herself when her mother can’t. Everything changes when her mom is arrested, and her father takes her and shows her what having a home and people who love her feels like. But will it be enough for her to let go of the past and live in the now?

Trish Doller really knows how to spin a story of love, family, and learning to move on from painful pasts. I know — it doesn’t sound like anything different from the other contemporaries out there, but here’s the thing: does it have to be? Well, I didn’t really think so. At least, not while I was reading the book. There is so much to love about Where the Stars Still Shine. The gritty writing, for example. Though it may seem like it at first, Callie isn’t your typical brooding teenager with a troubled past, who suddenly finds love in unexpected places. Her narration isn’t always depressing, and she doesn’t only harp over how horrible her life was before she got to Tarpon Springs (and trust me, she went through some pretty tough stuff). Callie’s narration was a balanced blend of everything — anger, bitterness, fear, and also love — and that’s what makes the story so utterly believable and captivating. I never wanted the book to end.

But this is Callie’s voice; what about her character? Despite our differences, Callie was a surprisingly easy character to connect and sympathize with. It’s one thing to make her likable. It’s entirely something else to make her come alive, turn what was once words on a page into something with flesh, organs, something that walked, talked, breathed, and lived. Throughout the book, whatever she went through, I felt for her. She may have had some bad qualities at first, but those things were easily overlooked because she was such a fitting protagonist for this story. If Callie turned out to be real, I wouldn’t have been surprised in the slightest.

The rest of the characters were just as beautifully brought to life, but I have to say that my absolute favorite was Alex Kosta, the love interest. And that’s saying something, because it usually takes a lot in order for a love interest to impress me and win my heart. But Alex. Alex. Jesus Christ, he was — I can’t even think of a word that would describe him right now. All I know is that I need someone like him in my life. He was flawed — and not just outwardly flawed, but inwardly as well. He had his own issues. He didn’t always understand Callie’s, and they went through rocky times because of that, but he was there for her, and he loved her despite her troubles. He was there when Callie couldn’t get used to life in Tarpon Springs.

He’s just. Perfection, okay?

One of my favorite contemporaries of all time, Where the Stars Still Shine will break your heart, mend it back, and then break it all over again. The only flaw I could find — and an incredibly minuscule one at that — was the ending, but that could’ve been just me (because at that time I was thinking all about Alex Callie’s welfare). I finished this book within two days. That shows how much I loved it.

Who is this book for?

EVERYONE. Even if contemporary isn’t your thing, I still can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a must-read, for sure.

4.5 stars

308 pages, e-galley from NetGalley (thank you!)
Published September 24, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA
Purchase: The Book DepositoryAmazon


22 thoughts on “The Power of Family: Where the Stars Still Shine, Trish Doller

  1. Great review, Meg! You’re making me even more excited for it! I already ordered my copy from Kinokuniya; hopefully it gets here soon 😀

  2. Amazing review! I loved this so much (I’m that girl who tweeted you that once when you were reading, insert Alex Costa fan girl squeal! 😉 and it’ s great hearing what another fellow fan had to say and their thoughts because we all take different things away when we read books. Welcome to the Trish Doller fan club, welcome aboard!

  3. It’s the second review I read of this book toady and I’m confused as hell!! I don’t know what to think about this book anymore – I’ve heard before that the characters are dull and unlikable and the romance is to instant. But your thoughts are completely different. I am a huge fan of YA contemporary tear-jerking books, and if you say it’s your favorite contemporary book ever it must mean something right..?
    Guess I should read it and find out for myself. 😛

    Thanks for sharing this brilliant review!! I’m a new follower via Bloglovin’ BTW. ❤

    Sapir @ Diary of a Wimpy Teen Girl

    • I can see why some would find the characters a little dull and the romance too instant, but for me, it was the total opposite. I think the romance had something to do with Callie’s upbringing — she doesn’t know what TRUE love, or true relationships are like, and it was incredibly easy to like all the characters. You should totally read it!

      Thanks, Sapir. 🙂

  4. This is the first time I’ve heard of this book! The story sounds really intriguing to me, and it’s nice to know that the author seems to have a reputation for making good contemporary 🙂

    I love it when a character has a memorable voice and it looks like that Callie’s voice is just that and more. And woo hoo for balance! The way you describe Callie’s character makes me want to read abot her so bad! Connecting to a character, feeling as if the character’s real, and feeling for a character is one of the reasons why I love reading so much. It sounds as if Doller did a fantastic job at creating her characters.

    Oh, and Alex Costa… I want to meet him T_T There for the MC and fleshed out– that’s a great love interest in my book! And when you say that he is outwardly flawed, does that mean he isn’t ridiculously handsome? If so… *claps*

    Also, just looked at the release date and found out that this book is coming out tomorrow! Now I don’t have to worry about having to go through the torture of waiting 😀 Great review!

    • So glad it appeals to you! If it sounds good to you, then you should definitely get it. 😀

      Memorable voices are extremely important for me because I read so many books, and because of my book amnesia, it’s becoming increasingly easy to mix up the characters because their voices all sound so similar. But I can say for sure that Callie and the entire cast of characters for this book will stay with me for a while!

      ALEX. One of the best parts of the book. I have no idea why I’m so attracted to him, but I am. By outwardly flawed, I meant that the author didn’t make him flawed just because. Outwardly flawed characters tend to be really shallow for me, but he was inwardly flawed as well. Nothing to do with his looks, haha.

      Hope you get to read it soon, Lesley! And thanks for such a thoughtful comment. ❤

  5. I enjoyed reading your review as you write so well. I like the idea of the book but I think I will give it a miss. It’s not really my style but I would happily watch it if it ever became a film.

  6. Aww, I feel so happy that you loved this book so much. I wasn’t able to enjoy it that much because of some similarities I found with this and some other book I’d rather (which was my favorite!). Callie was very relatable, I didn’t agree with some of her choices regarding ehr mom, but me being so close to my mom, I get it. I guess it’s natural to protect your parent. Plus, I loved the relationship Callie and her father had. It was the best I’ve read so far in a YA. Great review, Meg 🙂

    • I can see why you’d see some similarities — some of the characters in this book were pretty cliche for me, too (like Kat), but that didn’t really bother me much. Yeah, I was kind of miffed how much loyalty she felt toward her mother, but it was still touching to read. Thanks, Aman!

  7. Fabulous review, Megan! I was such a black sheep for this- I couldn’t empathise for the MC at all strangely, I can’t seem to find the right words to put it. *sigh*

  8. I have heard some really amazing things about this one and honestly it sounds too good to be true! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed and I love the sound of characters and the story itself. Not to mention that I’m huge lover of emotional reads. This is a must read for me. Great review Meg 🙂

  9. Yay! Fantastic review, Meg! I’m gonna include this book on my TBB list. Flawed characters are just awesome. The way you described Alex intrigued me. Hmmmn… And the fact that it’s not just about romance makes me more excited. Sounds like a book that will have your emotions on a rollercoaster ride.

    Did you cry, Meg? I so ❤ this part: "One of my favorite contemporaries of all time, Where the Stars Still Shine will break your heart, mend it back, and then break it all over again." Lord, will I be ready for that?

    • Thanks, Charlotte! I hope you get to read it soon, because this is one book that everyone should read. 😀

      Surprisingly, I didn’t. I guess it’s not that emotional in that sense. Like, there’s nothing drastic or dramatic that really happens — not like THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, for instance — but I could still feel the impact of it all, and that was what made it emotional for me.

  10. The promise of this book vaguely reminds me of one of the best contemporaries I’ve read so far (If you find me) This was such a powerful story and I liked the concept, so I think this book will work for me! 🙂 Awesome review Meg.

  11. I’ve heard so many great things about this book. I think your review is what will definitely make me read this book. I really enjoy contemporaries and the promise of an amazing love interest and real character sound amazing. Great review!

  12. Pingback: Warp Drive Sunday: Sept 22 – Sept 28 | Adrift on Vulcan

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