Genres: YA Contemporary
Source: eARC via NetGalley
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.
Some books have a beauty that defies words and is so hard to talk about even though you want to talk it up to the moon and back because it’s that good. Where the Stars Still Shine is one of those books and coming from a picky reader like me, that’s not praise to be taken lightly. Doller paints a messy picture of Callie and who she is because of the life she’s led, but it’s a lovely one too. It could have easily gone wrong, but she makes all the right brush strokes to bring out just the right images and emotions.
Callie. Oh wow, Callie. The poor girl has had it anything but easy after so many years of being on the run with a mentally ill mother whose disease runs her life (and whose struggles are portrayed without judgment or ableism, thank goodness). The girl uses sex to cope and goes off alone at all hours and pushes people away when they only want to help, but flashes of how Frank abused her and what else she went through helped me understand her. Victims cope in all sorts of ways that can be healthy or unhealthy. That’s hers.
Callie’s family and friends really come to life too. Her best friend/cousin Kat is often annoying, but the rest of the family is larger than life and may conform to the media stereotype of a Greek family, but they feel real all the same. There’s more focus on the romance-ish thing she has going on with a boy named Alex than her family for most of the book, though. I’m a fan of Alex and Callie mostly because of how their relationship develops and turns out. It gets a pretty satisfactory conclusion, especially considering the fact he’s her step-uncle. No true relation, but it’s still weird to think about.
Doller has such a way with words and characters, which makes me sad that Arcadia Falls, her next book, isn’t going to come out until at least 2015. I guess I can occupy my time until then with rereading her books and hoping the many non-Trish books I’ll read between now and 2015 will be as good as hers. (Fun fact: This short little review took an hour of banging my head on the keyboard and another hour of tying to find the right words after I stopped the aforementioned head-on-keyboard shenanigans.)