Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Format: Hardcover
Released: September 24th, 2013
Rating: 9/10

Amazon 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. 


All you contemporary YA fans out there, you need to get this book pronto. It's SO GOOD; realistic and dreamy and impossible to put down. I have completely fallen in love with the characters, the setting, the story, everything. I first knew author Trish Doller through Twitter, before reading her first book, Something Like Normal, last year. I enjoyed that one too, though I think Where the Stars Still Shine is even better.

I need to start by mentioning the writing. It's beautiful. Some of the phrases and words used, the way the sentences are structured... I just loved it. I'd never heard of Tarpon Springs, a town in Florida, before reading this book, and I'm amazed that places like that can exist. It has a sponge docks area (Sponging - something else I knew nothing about!) and a Greek-American population that is like this close-knit community. So cool. I feel like I've had a much-needed geography lesson which, for ignorant me, is never a bad thing!

Where the Stars Still Shine is set in Tarpon Springs, which comes into the story when Callie, who's been on the run most of her life after being stolen away by her mum, goes there to live with her dad and his family. It's a huge adjustment, and she feels guilty for leaving her mum behind, the only person and all she's had for years. She soon starts fitting in with her new life and location, meeting her cousin Kat again, getting a job and having a guaranteed place to sleep every night. She also meets a boy, Alex, who I'll get to soon. Slowly, Callie builds a new life for herself, the life she should have had and the life she wants. It's a brilliant story, finely crafted and so believable it's like I was living there myself.

Alex is the boy Callie meets quite early on, who turns out to have problems and secrets of his own. He's got hot blonde curly hair (can you hear me swoon?) and is everything Callie needs. Thoughtful, kind, damaged, he's basically the embodiment of every living person out there. No-one is perfect, everyone is dealing with things they wish they weren't, and that makes him one of the most realistic male YA characters I've read about. He's nice to look at, yes, but underneath all that he's just a guy trying to sort himself out; he and Callie have that in common. Their relationship is addictive to read about and I couldn't wait for their time together. It all unfolds so well, and the ending brought tears to my eyes.

The Greek-American community portrayed in this book is exactly how I imagine it is in real life, in a small town in Florida, a place I doubt I'll ever visit. It reminded me of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls; everyone knows everyone and everything, they help each other and make it a better place.I imagine it's a great place to live, and Trish Doller really made it come alive through her descriptions of the ocean, houses and the work that is done there. I have no interest whatsoever in travel, but this place really caught my attention.

I loved Where the Stars Still Shine so much, especially Callie finding herself and repairing relationships with her dad and a family she never knew she had. I laughed, I very nearly cried several times, and I rooted for Callie the whole time. I fell in love with Alex and Tarpon Springs, and I don't have anything bad to say about any of it. I know it hasn't been slated for publication here in the UK yet, but I hope it finds its way over here one day. We desperately need more contemporary YA like this.


So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I really need to read some Trish Doller don't I? This sounds right up my ally, especially if it reminded you of Stars Hollow!

Becky Scott said...

I have been so out of the loop lately but I can see that I need to read this book. Can't believe how much you've been blogging. Great to see you back at it x