Published September 24, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Children's
Hardcover, 352 pages
Borrowed from library
Since she was five, Callie's been living on the run with her mother after she split with her dad. Their life is anything but stable, spent moving from city to city until one day, Callie's mother gets arrested by the police for kidnapping Callie. Now, her mother's in jail and Callie returns to where she lived for the first five years of her life and where she would have continued to live had her mother not stolen her. She needs to learn how to fit back into a familial system she's never had, find friendship she's never known and find love to make her believe again.
I hadn't ever planned on reading Where the Stars Still Shine but when I saw it in the library, I just knew that I HAD to pick it up. I don't know why, I had no clue what the book was about but something in my brain was like "yeah!" so I grabbed it. And let me tell you, that was a REALLY good decision because I ended up really enjoying this book! It's no secret I'm obsessed with contemporary and the premise for this book just sounded so good. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit sick to my stomach when the cover flap made it sound like romance was a big part of the novel because I really wasn't looking to get a romance with this book but in the end, I think everything came together rather nicely!
WHAT WAS OKAY
+ Callie and Alex.
As I mentioned, I was not excited for the romance and while it didn't suck, I didn't like it that much either. I felt like everything moved way too fast for me. It makes sense to think someone's super hot (guys if you know me, me saying this is absolutely hilarious) but given the circumstances of Callie's past, I don't know if she would automatically have sex with a guy she didn't even know. Helloooo? He could be an axe murderer! But seriously, they didn't even know each other at all and then just hopped into bed with each other which I thought was so weird. As the story progressed, their relationship came together for me in a really sweet way. You could see how much they liked each other and they were really so good for each other. I did want to see some more character development on Alex's side as totally separate from the relationship the two were in but it was still good.
+ Callie, just as a character and in general.
I have to say, I wasn't the biggest fan of Callie. I didn't think she was super annoying but I didn't like her that much either. Honestly, she made it very hard to like. I just thought with all the things that Greg was doing for her, she ought to have been a tad more grateful and yet she was breaking rules and escaping from the house and just totally breaking his trust. Which wasn't a nice thing to do at all, regardless of her background or where she's come from.
WHAT I LIKED
+ The relationship between Callie and her mother.
In terms of family, Callie has only ever had her mother Veronica. I mean, there is her father Greg but after being taken away from that part of her life when she was five by Veronica, he wasn't really in the picture. So it's just Callie and Veronica. Their life together was NOT good at all. They had food and all the necessities but it wasn't a life of luxuries either. Often they would end up holed in together in really tiny places with barely any money and shady men entering and exiting their house to meet Veronica. Definitely not a good life in any sense and definitely not a good upbringing for a child either. And you just have to think that if Veronica hadn't taken Callie away, Callie wouldn't have experienced half of all the horrible things she did. As a reader, you see this and you're just like "why doesn't Callie hate Veronica because without her, she would have had a wonderful life?". And I think in some ways, Veronica expects Callie to hate her too but Callie's just such a good person - towards the end, Veronica has some things to say about this as well which I so agree with - that despite everything that she was put through with Veronica, she has a ginormous amount of unconditional love for her. And I think it's that unconditional love that really keeps Veronica afloat as well. The things Veronica has done are not good, but through the love Callie has for her mother, as the reader you kinda start to see things her way as well and it's absolutely beautiful the love they both have for each other and how they'll both fight in the other's corner and are really there for each other.
+ Greg, as well as the boys and Phoebe.
Greg, Callie's father, was a really likeable character! He has two other boys now and a new wife, Phoebe but the love he still has for Callie is so obvious. And even though Veronica isn't exactly someone who's done great things, Greg doesn't deny his love for her either and I admire him for that so much. I couldn't help but think the entire time I was reading this novel how he was only 17 when he had Callie and yet he's eased into fatherhood and manhood so well. Greg is just one of those people who's so good through and through. His sons were really adorable as well and Phoebe was so nice too! Everyone in the family was super nice and really one of the bright spots of this novel!
+ The town of Tarpon Springs.
After reading Where the Stars Still Shine, I was so pleased to learn that Tarpon Springs was in fact, a real town in the United States! It was the best part of the book in my opinion. I've always loved reading about beach towns like with the fictional town of Colby in Sarah Dessen's novel and Tarpon Springs just really came alive through this book. I haven't ever been there but I'm sure Trish Doller did a great job portraying it in this book because I could imagine every single thing and honestly, everything was so detailed that I totally wanted to take a jet and live there forever! Since Tarpon Springs is a town that has a very large Greek community, there were a lot of Greek cultural references in this book as well and even though I'm not Greek, I thought these references really helped make the book much more intimate and interesting AND unique.
+ Trish Doller's writing.
Sometimes when a book has a really great story, that can propel the book forward because there's so much intensity and action but often times I notice much more that if a book has great writing, I can read it much faster! And Where the Stars Still Shine had that. Doller's writing was simple yet detailed and everything just went down so smoothly! Think the opposite of honey, like water... Smooth, flows well - you get the picture.
I really enjoyed this book! While Callie wasn't a super likeable main character, I thought everyone else was really charming especially her family. Trish Doller's writing was fantastic in this book and the setting of Tarpon Springs just really came alive for me. I think overall it was a bit more superficial than I would have liked, focusing a lot more on the romance but there was still some exploration of feelings of abandonment and drug abuse etc.
fans of Sarah Dessen as well as someone looking for a romance with some more substance.