Saturday, August 24, 2013

ARC Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Goodreads summary:

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.

My review:

This is my first Trish Doller book, and while I enjoyed it and thought it was a unique contemporary, I had a few problems with it.  Although, I should probably say, it's more of a realistic fiction type of story than contemporary.  This isn't a lighthearted contemporary; it's thought-provoking and real.  That being said, there were a couple issues that I wished were different.

First is the main character, Callie.  I neither loved her nor hated her, but that's a bad thing - a character should always provoke an emotion in you, whether positive or negative.  And that's my big problem with Callie: she's so passive.  She just stands there and lets life happen to her.  I know she's had a rough past and struggles with trusting her new family, but I just wanted some more emotion from her.  I wanted her to make a decision for herself and actually make an effort to care about her family.  By the end of the novel, I felt like none of her problems had been resolved.  She didn't have enough character growth.

Second is the romance.  Sadly, I didn't really feel the chemistry between Callie and Alex.  Callie is not the type of character to fall in love easily, so I definitely didn't feel like she was in love with Alex.  Their relationship started way too fast and didn't seem very in-character for Callie.  After all, if she was willing to make time to be with Alex (who is basically a stranger to her), why couldn't she make more time for her family (who are also strangers to her)?

But aside from these two issues, I really did enjoy Where the Stars Still Shine (seriously amazing title, by the way!).  It's a unique concept for a contemporary/realistic fiction story, and it has some truly fantastic minor characters.  I completely fell in love with Callie's family.  I loved her poor dad, who doesn't know how to deal with a teenage daughter but is doing his best to love her in his own way.  And I loved the complex stepmother and Callie's sweet little stepbrothers.  The way Trish Doller writes these relationships and bonds between Callie's family is so, so touching.  And the writing is great, it flowed very well and despite not always liking Callie, I kept turning the pages to find out what would happen next.

While I didn't totally love Where the Stars Still Shine, I predict it will be perfect for fans of gritty realistic fiction.  I can see other people loving the complexity of Callie's character and her trust issues, even though it was a problem for me.  Overall, Trish Doller is definitely a talented contemporary writer, and I'll have to try her first novel sometime.

* I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

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