September 20, 2013

Where the Stars Still Shine - Trish Doller

Where the Stars Still Shine - Trish Doller
Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks, Bloomsbury!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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. (from Goodreads)

Where the Stars Still Shine is one of the most incredible books of this year. Callie's story is heartbreaking, but also hopeful; I was completely invested in it from start to finish. What makes this novel moving is how Doller skillfully tackles things that many of us might face in real life: shifting family dynamics, new friendships, and the promise of romance. Underneath all this, of course, is the heart of the book: Callie's journey towards making peace with her past, her present and her possible future.

Callie is someone I could have been friends with, mostly because we both love books. After living a non-traditional life for so many years, it's no surprise that she's capable, street smart and fiercely independent. Even so, readers will feel the need to hold her hand and protect her as she gets exposed to a different lifestyle - one where she has a stable home, job and set of people surrounding her. Callie's understandably confused and awkward, attempting to fit herself into a life that could have been hers if her mom hadn't taken her away. Yet somehow, the pieces start to slowly fall into place.

What makes her adjustment incredibly difficult is learning how to deal with her father, her new friend (and cousin) Kat, and a potential romance with Alex Kosta. These three are complete strangers in her life, and it's no surprise that she has no idea how to handle her relationships with each of them. How is she supposed to feel about this parent who is virtually a stranger and the family he brings into her life? Should she pursue this friendship with Kat, who is wonderfully bubbly and eager to be her friend? And what about the mysterious Alex, who's irresistible but also seems like a bad idea? Callie really goes through a lot as she learns what it means to have a dad, be a good friend and even truly fall in love with someone. She also develops a new dynamic with her mother, which is something that I thought was handled well. Even though it can be quite painful at times, Doller did a good job of bringing those various situations to life in an authentic way.

There are quite a few moments in Where the Stars Still Shine that I'd want to return to time and again, because they're written so wonderfully. The whole novel really transports the reader into Callie's life, allowing us to feel like we're experiencing everything alongside her. While I can't guarantee you won't be frustrated with certain parts or characters, I can say, wholeheartedly, that it's fairly simple to fall in love with Doller's writing, Callie's story and even Alex Kosta. This novel is such a beautiful contemporary read, and definitely one of my favorites for 2013.


  1. I really do love those books where you feel invested IMMEDIATELY and will want to root for them the whole time!

  2. Beautiful review Alexa! I cannot wait to read this book. I loved Trish Doller's Something Like Normal and you are among many who say wonderful things about this new novel of hers! This is definitely a fall TBR!

  3. I'm glad this was so good, I can't wait to read it :)

  4. Oh I'm so happy to hear that you loved this one! I've pre-ordered it (yay!) and now I'm just waiting for Tuesday so that it will finally ship. EEK! I really liked Something Like Normal, but I have a feeling I'm going to LOVE this one.

  5. I can definitely deal with being frustrated with a few parts if it's worth it in the end. And it sound like it is here. I've heard nothing but great things about Trish Doller's writing. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Alexa! I can't wait to try it for myself. :)

  6. This one was definitely written well and I enjoyed it immensely, even if it wasn't as much as I was hoping. I loved the Greek culture aspect and Callie was an interesting character. Great review!

    AKA Vi3tBabe
    Deity Island

  7. Wow. This sounds amazing, I've never heard of the novel before and don't think I've even heard of anything else the author has done. Definitely going to add this to my (ever growing) TBR pile!


  8. I always like it when the MC also loves books :D

  9. Love this!! I think I'm also going to be reading back a lot of this book, if not all of it, soon. Great review!


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