Callie was stolen from her large Greek-American family by her mother when she was a little girl. She and her mom have been on the run for the last 10 years and she has no idea what a ‘normal’ life means. Callie has never been to school, has lived off of food from vending machines. Her dreams consist of real life nightmares that she would rather forget. When Callie’s mom gets arrested for kidnapping, she gets sent back to live with her father for the life she should have lived. She has to figure out how to become part of a family and learn to love.
Review: Where the Stars Still Shine is one of my favorite books of 2013. Doller doesn’t shy away from the tough subjects and manages to write a beautiful book. The pacing is a little slow, but it creates a more realistic story, taking the reader through life as Callie experiences it. She did a wonderful job with Callie. I never once got booted out of the story because something didn’t feel right in the narrative. The novel felt very real from start to finish. I thought the supporting characters were distinct and had strong personalities to compliment Callie’s journey. Kat, Callie’s mom and Dad, her step mom, and her grandma all felt authentic and that they had a back story as well. None of them felt flat.
More than just the supporting characters, I really liked Alex as the love interest, mostly because he wasn’t there to save her and pick up the pieces of her former life. His own subplot was, itself, a hard to wrestle with. With that being said, yes, he does help Callie come to terms with some of her problems from the past. But she does the same for him. Neither of them is perfect and both are learning how to be with someone. Even at the end, she doesn’t tie everything up in a little bow for them. Doller makes their relationship hard work.
Callie is a character that will resonate with you long after you have put the book down. Where the Stars Still Shine is a gritty, true portrayal of teenagers. This is a book I will recommend many times. Also, as a side note, Trish Doller was amazing at the Austin Teen Book Festival. I loved getting to hear her speak!
**I read an advanced reader’s copy. Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing me a copy via NetGalley.**