Book: Where The Stars Still Shine, Trish Doller,
Publisher: USA Children’s
Release Date: September 24th, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
This book deals with some fairly serious themes – abandonment, kidnapping, betrayal, sexual abuse as well as emotional abuse. A less talented author could try to use these themes but ruin the book because s/he wasn’t able to portray it in the right way and just ruined the book instead of making it a more meaningful and thoughtful book. Thankfully, Trish Doller is a talented enough author to make this book seem incredibly moving and thought-provoking with realistic feelings from the protagonist without over-doing it or making it seem fake.
Callie is a girl with a deep dark past. When her parents divorced when she was five years old, her mother (who was ill) got paranoid that Callie’s father would try and claim full custody so panicked and took Callie away in the middle of the night. Twelve years later, Callie and her mother are still on the run, moving whenever her mother gets paranoid or sleeps with a random guy and wants to steal his car. But everything changes when Callie’s mother is arrested for kidnapping, and Callie returns to the home of her father and a life she doesn’t remember.
Coming home is a huge adjustment for Callie, who’s never had a proper home before as she’s never stayed in one place long enough to call home. She finds herself sneaking out of the house at night to go wondering and away from disturbing and recurring nightmares, not realising that it worries her father as it’s something she’s done for years without her mother ever caring. She lacks proper social skills around her long lost family and cousin as she never attended school or had any proper friends, so she makes some pretty rude remarks from time to time. She also starts to feel guilty whenever she enjoys her time at her new home or when hanging out with her family, as it means she wasn’t thinking about her mother (who is at risk of going to jail.)
Callie also spent twelve years watching her mother bring home random guys for one-night-stands, so thinks its okay to just have sex and then leave. In this way she is not very careful with boys. But after an embarrassing first date with a local boy, and after spending some time with her family, Callie begins to see how warped this is and doesn’t limit her actions to everything her mother did. She starts to let people in and care about them instead of just herself.
Her feelings for her mother fluctuate a lot in this book, which I think Doller did very well as well as realistically. She starts off missing her mother and feeling guilty for enjoying her new life, but then will feel angry at her mother for taking her away from such an obviously loving family home and for being so selfish. Then she’ll feel guilty for getting angry at her mother. It was all very heart breaking and very interesting to read.
What was also interesting was Callie’s relationship with her father, Greg. I felt this was handled incredibly well by Doller. When they first meet Greg immediately hugs Callie, having missed her so much and never occurring to him that he is just a stranger to his daughter. Their relationship starts off as quite awkward and Callie doesn’t really know how to act around him as she’s never had a father figure that wasn’t one of her mother one-night-stands, and has never had rules before so has trouble following his. However by the end they’ve really grown close and it’s just lovely to see. Greg was the stability and unconditional love she needed in her life. His wife was quite supportive of the sudden reappearance of a stepdaughter and their two toddler sons were adorable and Callie’s relationship with them was beyond adorable.
The love interest was at first not who I was expecting, but it turns out to be much better than I wanted. Alex was the town’s man whore with a reputation for breaking girls’ hearts, but it’s Callie who eventually converts him and their relationship was lovely. While it didn’t end the way I expected, it was realistic which was common for how the story unravelled. It makes me itchy for a sequel, even though I know it’s a stand-alone novel.
Still the book on a whole was very realistic and written incredibly well considering the themes the author was sitting on. Callie could sometimes be a bit selfish and unlikable at times, but I forgave her considering everything she was going through and overall I really enjoyed her character and cheered when she finally won.
Would definitely recommend this book to YA fans.