Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Where the Stars Still ShineWhere the Stars Still Shine by
Published by: Bloomsbury USA Childrens on
Genre: Abuse, Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley
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Rating: 2.5/5

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 »

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.

The Verdict

okay

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12 comments

  1. I get what you mean with the character’s crappy behavior being explained by her broken past but sometimes it’s just not relayed very well or it’s just TOO MUCH and I don’t have patience for people who don’t help themselves. I’m pretty sure I would feel the same way about Callie as you did. And ugh terrible parents are such a pet peeve of mine. I get that parents like that actually exist IRL but they usually do nothing boy annoy the crap out of me until it affects my enjoyment of the book overall. Too bad this didn’t turn out to be like you expected. You’re right I didn’t think it would be a romance on top of everything from the synopsis either and poo to romances taking over EVERYTHING!! >.<

    Giselle recently posted: Review: Croak by Gina Damico
  2. Aww, so sad that you didn’t really love this book. I’ve heard mixed reviews. I love the cover though, lol. Oh, I hate it when a book has terrible parents. Ugh. It sucks when you can’t connect with the MC and for me, that makes me not like the book at all usually. Great review!

    Vivian recently posted: Throwback Thursdays – August ’13
  3. Boo! I hate when you think a book won’t have romance, and then it ends up being the dominating plot. It’s like it’s okay if you know ahead of time, but when it comes out of nowhere like that it just puts you off. And I completely understand what you mean about not liking the MC because her attitude didn’t seem a result of her past. I personally haven’t read this one, and I doubt I will even though I have seen positive reviews. I’m not a huge fan of contemps to begin with, and I rather delve into something I’ve heard more about if I were to go there like a Gayle Forman book (which I haven’t read any of). Still, great review!

    Asti (A Bookish Heart) recently posted: Bookish Thoughts: My Book Blogging Manifesto
  4. I think you tweeted something about not caring for this one, so I wanted to see your review. And actually, I really think what you said made a lot of sense. Frankly, Callie was a bitch. I don’t think that made her a bad character but it DID make it VERY difficult to sympathize with her or understand her, or even ever LIKE her. I’m not sure if that’s what Trish was going for or not, but I definitely would have enjoyed STARS more if Callie was…if not nicer, more understandable. Like you said, instead of knowing about the abuse and it making Callie a character I could feel for, her actions made her the opposite.

    In fact, it’s something I want to briefly touch on in my review. I think it was a 3.5 star for me, to be fair, but I did have some issues. I loved the setting and the family dynamic and such!

  5. Ah Sweetie – you were definitely not on the mood for this book hu? I loved it and it makes me sad to see you didn’t really like it. I think if I would have felt the same way about Callie if I wouldn’t have been abele to connect with her.

    I always thought knew that her bitchy and crappy behaviour came from abuse and her mother so I think I understood her better. I can imagine how you must have felt without any connection to Callie..

  6. It’s too bad you didn’t connect with Callie. Connections with characters are one of the biggest things that leads me to like/dislike a book. Also, I’d never have guessed a romance was a big part of the plot based on the summary. I’d have read it for the family drama and personal growth. Too bad that wasn’t the focus.

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