Where the Stars Still Shine
by Trish Doller
Expected Publishing Date:September 24, 2013
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Obtained Via: Received digital ARC in exchange for an honest review from publisher via Netgalley
Format Read In: Digital ARC
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.
A few phrases come to mind when I think of this book: culture shock, reality check, and. . . Stockholm Syndrome? Perhaps that’s a little far, but I think it rings true. All Callie has ever known is life with her mother–the mother who kidnapped her and hid her from the rest of her family almost all her life. And why it’s easy to point fingers at Callie’s mother, her story is also heartbreaking, watching her struggle with inner demons. And then there’s Callie: stuck in the middle between the life she should have lived for the past ten years, and the life she actually lived.
Watching Callie come to terms with her life was an incredible journey that lasted the duration of this book. At the beginning, even the mood and the atmosphere FEEL so lonely, and it was the hardest part of the book for me to get through because of that. As Callie slowly learns to trust people, to open up, and to really entertain the idea of being part of a family, the setting and Doller’s writing started to reflect that.
This isn’t a book to pick up if you’re looking for a book packed to the brim with plot–it’s heavily character-oriented and while I wouldn’t classify it as one of those slow-moving, but beautiful books, I think the pacing does tend towards the slower side. The revelations that Callie comes across as she struggles with her new life keep the book moderately paced and I HAD to find out how this part of Callie’s story ends, but I don’t think I’d go so far as to call it a page-turner.
I don’t know how a person would act in Callie’s situation, but her character development seemed highly realistic to me. Here she is, thinking all of life has been one way the entire time, and suddenly she’s confronted with this new truth that’s the opposite of everything she’s always been told. She’s dazed and confused, which affects ALL her relationships–her relationship with her father, her relationship with her cousin who becomes her new friend, and her potential romantic relationship. It’s hard to read about Callie’s inner turmoil, but it’s worth it in the end.
At the end of this book, things aren’t perfect. It’s not as if Callie wakes up one morning and suddenly feels like she fits everywhere she “needs” to and her life’s now normal, but she’s in such a different place at the end of the book that it works. Everything might not be tied up in a pretty string, but she’s come far enough that it’s clear to see she might one day be that way, which was an incredibly emotionally satisfying ending.
Final Impression: I loved this book. If I hadn’t heard so many good things about the author, I might not have picked this one up, but I’m SO SO glad I did. It was hard to read at times, but I think the emotional journey Callie went through was believable and satisfying from a narrative point of view. The beginning was slightly rocky for me, but after that, it was clear this was a wonderful book that I came to love. 5/5 cupcakes.