Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller – Review by Sarah Andersen

Title: Where the Stars Still Shine

Author: Trish Doller

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Release Date: September 24th, 2013

Interest: Author / Contemp

Source: ARC received from the publisher

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 and discovering who’s really important in your life will resonate with readers who want their stories authentic and utterly true.  Where the Stars Still Shine left me breathless and at a loss for words in the best possible way.  Honestly, I don’t feel like I can accurately express how much I love this book.  It’s beautiful.

I tear up when I read books, but it’s rare for me to actually cry when I read a book.  I cried while reading Callie’s story.  I had to email friends who have read this book to make sure certain things were/were not going to happen because I couldn’t read it fast enough.  I was INVESTED in these characters.  I still am.  As I’m writing this review it’s been a month since I’ve read Where the Stars Still Shine and I’m STILL invested in these characters.  I feel like they’re part of my life.  I care about them and want the best for them.  That kind of story is the best kind of story.  Trish Doller has written an excellent story.

Something that really made me happy while reading Where the Stars Still Shine is that Callie is such a strong and independent character.  She has to be because of how she’s grown up.  But even though she’s strong, she’s also vulnerable.  Callie has a tough time asking for help and recognizing familial support.  And her family?  They are amazing.  Her father, Greg, is what I wish more fathers in general and in YA are.  Callie also has an incredible grandmother and cousin.  These supporting characters not only add a real depth to the story and excellent familial element, but they also showcase how strong yet vulnerable Callie is.  She’s not use to relying on anyone but herself, but now that she has this new family she learns a new and better definition of the word family.  Her mother isn’t really a mother, but it’s all she knows of family.

If I’m going to bring up Callie’s independence and strength, I need to bring up sexuality.  Callie hasn’t had the best experiences with sex in her life; in fact, at least one experience was detrimental.  Her relationship with Alex is positive and is written really well.  I like that she takes ownership of her thoughts and desires about sex.  Not that many books write sex in this way, so I’m happy to read one that does.

Speaking of Alex, I want to know more about his back story.  I would love it if Trish Doller wrote a book from his point of view.  I know that’s wishful thinking, but there it is.  I want more from Alex.

I will admit that I wished for a slightly different ending, but it works for the characters and the story.  It’s an honest ending.  Trish Doller writes magic, and I HIGHLY recommend that you read Where the Stars Still Shine.  I read it in one sitting and can’t wait to share it with my students.

Sarah Andersen is a high school English teacher at Fenton High School. She loves reading YA and sharing it with her students.  She’s been blogging about books and teaching for three years at YA Love.