Published by: Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 24, 2013
Genre: Abuse, Contemporary, Romance
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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.
I feel like such a black sheep among my blogging friends. So many people I know LOVED Where the Stars Still Shine but I didn’t. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it.
I have a lot of issues with the book, but I think the biggest one is Callie and my lack of sympathy for her. We learn a lot about how Callie was sexually abused as a child and mostly ignored by her mother. Naturally, that has caused Callie to have a few problems of her own. But, when that happens in books, usually the author makes me sympathize with the character. That way, when the character acts weird/bitchy/annoying, I feel for her and I have thoughts like, “It’s not her fault; she can’t help it” etc. That way I don’t hate the character for being weird or bitchy, instead I feel bad because I know that something awful caused her to be that way. This wasn’t the case for me in Where the Stars Still Shine.
I almost don’t even know how to explain it properly… obviously we were given enough facts to realize that Callie was abused and her mother ignored her, but the author never really connected that to Callie’s annoying and bitchy behaviour. So although I knew factually that her behaviour was likely a result of what happened to her, I never felt that emotionally because it wasn’t reinforced in the story. All the pieces were there, but the author didn’t really weave them together to create a “cause and effect” type thing.
So Callie would run out and assume that all guys want sex and thus try to have sex with them to make them happy. Now logically, I should look at that behaviour and think, “Oh, poor Callie, she doesn’t know any better because she was sexually abused and her mom acted like that, so it’s learned behaviour.” But I didn’t feel that way. The author didn’t help me feel that way. Instead, I rolled my eyes because Callie was being annoying and spreading her legs for anyone because “that’s what guys want”. Then, Callie would act like a total bitch to her friend/cousin, who is super nice to her. My brain is telling me I’m supposed to forgive Callie because she’s never had any friends before and doesn’t know how a friend is supposed to act, and maybe it’s learned behaviour from her mom. But instead, I’m looking at Callie acting like a total bitch and I’m just hating her for it.
And in general, I felt like Callie’s problems with abuse went unresolved. She never really dealt with what happened to her or worked past it. View Spoiler » [She did end up telling two people about it, but I felt like they just had a quick chat and it was over. She never actually took time to work through her problems, and she certainly never told her dad about it (who I was hoping she would tell). Normally in books about abuse, the character goes through A LOT of “working through issues”, might even go to therapy, and just spends a ton of time dealing with it. I don’t feel like Callie did that. « Hide Spoiler]
Also, I hated how Callie put up with her mom. Her mom was HORRIBLE. She took advantage of Callie, she stole from her, she put her in horrible positions, and gave her a pretty crap life. And yet Callie kept letting her in and kept giving her chances, and it kind of pissed me off. I wanted her to turn her mom over to the cops and be done with her.
Then there was the romance… The whole reason I requested Where the Stars Still Shine was because I thought there was no romance in it, but instead, there IS a romance and it kind of dominates the book. There is nothing in the synopsis about romance. Normally, I love and ONLY want romance books. But, I was in the mood for a change of pace and requested Where the Stars Still Shine because I thought it had no romance and I was in the mood for a great family/friendship/finding yourself story. And while there were bits and pieces of that in it, I felt like the romance ended up taking over the whole book. I’m not sure if that was intentional, but the romance is what stood out to me the most. For me, that ended up working against the story because I didn’t want romance in it. So that’s kind of my fault for not wanting it at the time.
Despite all my complaints, I didn’t hate this book. There were a few things I enjoyed, like Callie’s family (her father/stepmother/stepbrothers/extended family), Callie’s friend/cousin Kat who was the nicest girl EVER, and the snorkeling scene. The whole town of Tarpon Springs and the Greek culture was presented wonderfully! I loved that aspect of the book. I felt like the whole idea of making Callie Greek was an excellent and unique touch. It definitely made the story more interesting!
But my problems with Callie in particular just killed my enjoyment of the book. I kept reading about all my friends crying while reading Where the Stars Still Shine but I didn’t shed a tear. I never even got sad. My biggest problem was that I didn’t sympathize with Callie at all. I’m pretty confident that if I had been able to sympathize with her, I would have enjoyed the book a lot more.