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.
Trish Doller’s debut Something Like Normal was a big hit when it was released. Everyone loved it but when I read it, I wasn’t as impressed. It was a good book; it just wasn’t the best book. I decided that I still wanted to read whatever else Trish Doller wrote next because she was a good writer. Where the Stars Still Shine, her sophomore novel, has once again been a hit with many people. For me, though, it wasn’t the most impressive book. I liked this book but certain issues bothered me. I will say this: everyone will like a book in a different way. Not everyone will love every book and these are not honest opinions.
Callie was a protagonist I both cared for and was annoyed with. Since she was taken away from her family by her mother from a young age and molested by her mother’s boyfriend. She isn’t used to being around loving family members and has always seen sex as something that was harmful and an act that she could find no pleasure in. I sympathized with Callie during this book but I was often bothered by her actions. For one (and to clarify: I have never gone through what Callie has and I understand that everyone will react to certain situations in many different ways), the way she treated her father seemed...inconsiderate. She was often upset with her father because he didn’t understand that she was not used to having him around and that it was a new situation for her. My initial reaction was that it was different for her father and the other members of the family as well. Maybe this is too picky of me but this did not work for me.
Another aspect, something I would have liked if it had been done a little different, is rather personal and I know people will defend that it was done well. Callie’s growth and the way she handled sex were interesting. Callie had been molested and never truly found pleasure in sex. Until, that is, she comes to the small town and meets Alex Kostas. The first time they meet, she is attracted to him but nothing physically happens between them. I was excited to see how their relationship would progress until they meet again for the second time and they hook up. But they had sex and I was instantly put off. Now I have NOTHING against people have sex and hooking up. You do what you want to do but it was hard for me to care for their relationship. It was sweet and heartbreaking but in the end, it didn’t do anything for me. It wasn’t insta-love in the most common sense but it wasn’t anything I found myself rooting for.
The writing, like with her first novel, was my favorite aspect of Where the Stars Still Shine. It was beautiful and poignant. Even though I was not as impressed with Callie or the romance, I love the way she wrote about the Greek community in the small town in Florida (since reading the book, I have forgotten the name). I loved reading about their history and the sponge industry of the town. To be honest, I was not aware that finish sponges could allow for a living so that was an interesting fact to learn.
Overall, I enjoyed Where the Stars Still Shine but I was not in love with this novel. Certain aspect did not work for me as a reader even though I really wanted to love this book. The romance seemed too much like an insta-love and I wasn’t as impressed with the handling of the issue with sex. I’m not sure if I will read any more of Trish Dollar’s books but maybe it’s too early for me to judge. We’ll just have to wait and see I guess.
In the end, I didn't love this book as much as I wanted to. There was just some aspects that did not work for me. I was highly disappointed that I didn't love this one but I still haven't given up on the author. If anything, this book allowed me to really re-think how I handle certain aspects of my life because I often find myself to not be as thankful for all of the wonderful experiences I've has the pleasure of being a part of. I think Trish Dollar has a lot to offer in the world of YA literature and I can't wait to read more!