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Where the Stars Still Shine

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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.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published September 24, 2013

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About the author

Trish Doller

10 books1,728 followers
Hi, I'm Trish! I don't really visit goodreads too often, but you can find me on both Instagram and Twitter as @trishdoller. Instagram is my favorite, so look there first. I don't bite, so come say hello!

(Note: I'm sorry that don't have any review copies for my books. You'll have to contact the publisher.)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 954 reviews
October 9, 2013
I had a little bit of an personal identity crisis while reading a novel...I had to set the book aside at one point to ask myself: Am I a horrible person? Am I completely lacking in emotions, in empathy? Do I even have a heart? How else do I explain my complete lack of interest, and in fact, my dislike for the main character, someone who has been kidnapped and molested?

Maybe I didn't need to question my basest nature. Maybe it was just the book and its completely forgettable characters and plot.

The story is a sad one, a perfect example of how a child can be so easily programmed, a great example of Stockholm Syndrome. Callie has been on the run with her mess of a bipolar mother since she was 5. She has never been in regular school, she barely remembers her old life; they move around haphazardly, on her mother's whim. She has endured countless seedy motels, she has lived as a squatter, she has endured too many of her mother's questionable and abusive boyfriends. All she knows is that they are on the run because her mother has to keep her father from getting Callie back, because her father only wants Callie to spite her mother. They live out of suitcases.

At the beginning of the novel, they are again, on the run. Callie's mother gets caught due to a traffic violation which results in her discovery, and Callie is returned to her father, Greg, and his large, boisterous Greek family in Tarpon Springs. There, Callie tries to get readjusted to a semblance of a normal life, and we're supposed to be there with her as she overcomes her trauma, matures, and bonds with her family.

Well, no. It doesn't exactly happen in that exact manner. What actually happens is that Callie runs away from her very loving new family at every chance she gets to sleep with the local "man-whore." In the process, she worries her newfound family to no ends, and breaks a poor nice guy's heart, and does whatever the fuck she feels like, with no consideration to anyone but her bitch of an incarcerated mother. Oh, right. Stockholm Syndrome. Place your mother above all others, even if she's ruined your life. Gotcha!

I can't claim to know what it's like to be kidnapped, I can't claim to understand the complex psychology behind such a traumatic event, but as far as building a credible, somewhat likeable, complex character...this book completely failed for me.

Callie is simply not a likeable character. I feel bad for her, I truly do. What she has endured is beyond imagining, it is traumatic, it is horrifying, and I fruitlessly wish that nobody ever has to go through such an event. But this book is what it is, and beyond my sympathy of her past, the present Callie is not a person I like. She completely flaunts the rules. Yes, she has been on the run for so long, under her mother's supervision (which is really, no supervision at all), and she's used to being on her own...but this is another life, and Callie doesn't seem to understand that.

Callie has a new family, a really, really nice one. Her stepmother Phoebe, who is initially wary, but ultimately good at heart and trying her best to deal with a new member of the family, two new baby half-brothers who are annoying, but still cute as far as toddlers go, a really, really well-meaning father, Greg, who is in way over his head. Teenage daughters are problematic. Having one land in your lap after years of missing her...that's considerably harder to deal with. On top of that, this huge, huge extended Greek family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. It's overwhelming, but they love her, they missed her, they have always wanted her back...and Callie literally runs away to be with a boy.

There are rules in her new life, but Callie doesn't seem to understand that, even if it's made abundantly clear to her. School? Just a little bit to reimmerse her, please, darling girl? No. Callie's not ready for that! Nope, she doesn't want to go to school. What she IS ready for is partying and chilling with her friends and getting a job, so she can take long extended breaks and come back to work late because she's busy fucking Alex on his sponge-harvesting boat.

Curfew? Lol bitch please, what curfew? Rules are for people with normal childhoods, it seems. Callie stays out to sleep with hot Greek God Alex whenever she goddamn wants. She goes to parties and drinks and lies about it. And her poor, poor father, who has spent 12 years missing her and worrying about her and stressed out as all hell wondering where his daughter went missing without a word for hours? Think about HIS feelings? Nah. Alex!!!! WHOOOO! Hot Greek God Alex all the way.

Alex: Peter Pan Syndrome. Our man whore, our Greek God Alex just doesn't want to grow the fuck up. Oh, he's got *womp womp womp* proooooooooooblems man, but after hearing his explanation...nuh uh, I don't buy it. His excuses for not coming to visit his degenerative-disease-suffering, dying mom. His excuses for not being able to go to college? Weak. Wouldn't hold a drop of water. Weaker than the sponges that Alex dives for. Did I say sponges? Yeah. Alex has a wonderful career of diving for sponges to sell to tourists.

Kat: Callie's self-proclaimed BFF. This is my mental image of Kat.

Yep. Overly attached girlfriend. She is the equivalent of an overly eager puppy. She has no sense of subtlety. She attaches herself onto Callie with all the suction cups of an octopus and does not let go. Kat's held onto an image of Callie & her playing when they were 4 years old and she has dreamed of Callie coming back and being her best friend ever since.
“This is you and me when we were four. When we were best friends...But I’ve spent all these years imagining what our friendship would have been like if your mom hadn’t taken you. In my head we had sleepovers and took gymnastics lessons and had first dates with twin brothers, which is hilarious because I don’t even know any twins. And when you came home, I hoped---”

Callie is a local celebrity. Everyone knows she has been kidnapped, her return is known by everyone. Give the girl some room? Apparently, nobody told Kat. She clings onto Callie, takes her clothes-shopping, tries to set her up with a potential boyfriend, takes her on double dates...etc. Girl doesn't know the meaning of personal space.

The book wasn't altogether terrible, but I felt the romance aspect of it was completely overplayed, given how traumatized Callie had been when she was on the run. Callie's insta-attraction and subsequent behavior with Alex didn't feel real, and I felt like their interactions were merely sexual and no more than that. The thing is, the book tries to make it seem like there was more to Alex and Callie and that---I just didn't buy the romance.

I absolutely hated how she treated Connor, how she broke his heart. I remember standing next to my friend in 11th grade as she told a mutual friend that he was her "back up prom date." I remember the look on his face. It was a shitty, shitty thing to do, it is a shitty, shitty thing to say, and it is just another example of how utterly selfish and inconsiderate Callie is towards anyone who is inconvenient to her and what she wants.

I feel bad for Callie, but her previous abuses doesn't give Callie an excuse to be a life-long bitch, and the entire book, for me, was an account of how Callie was an asshole to everyone and got away with it.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,804 reviews831 followers
August 13, 2013
Where the Stars Still Shine was an uplifting story that will make you angry, fill your heart with joy, and make you swoon.

Callie was kidnapped by her mother, a completely selfish woman. When faced with the prospect of losing custody because of her erratic and neglectful behavior, she takes five year old Callie and runs. Twelve years later the law finally catches up with them and Callie is returned to her father who’s been looking for her for years. While she wasn’t outright abused by her mother, Callie was never a big priority or consideration in where or how they lived.

Coming home is an adjustment and fills her with conflicting emotions: guilt over leaving her mother on her own, and anger when she begins to realize just how crappy and selfish her mother truly was. The question now is whether Callie will accept the love her father gives and believe that she’s worthy of it?

I had some doubts when I started this story, because it reminded me so much of another book I wondered if I could separate the two and resist comparisons. This is entirely my fault. When I picked this book up I didn’t read the blurb carefully because I was distracted by the gorgeous cover. (I can’t help it if I’m easily distracted by pretty things, lol!) Luckily those feelings didn’t last for long, and thoughts of the other book flew out of my head as I began to read.

Callie begins as a somewhat unlikable character, hesitant to accept the love of her father and her extended family. She also isn’t very careful with herself when it comes to boys. But gradually Callie sees how warped this is and dares to believe in a different life from the one her mother has limited her to. She lets others in and begins to care for them, too.

There were many highlights to this story for me: Greg, her father was just amazing and so very loving. He was the stability and unconditional love she needed in her life. He made Callie feel worth something which is more than I can say for that hideous excuse of a mother! Callie’s grandmother was lovely, even if she was a bit of a busy body. Greg’s wife was also supportive and their two toddler sons were just beyond adorable. All part of what makes Callie feel loved and part of something special.

Alex, the love interest was particularly dreamy in spite of what I was first led to believe about him. Their romance really made the story for me. Here’s a swoony quote for you:

“I missed you,” Alex whispers, his forehead touching mine, his fingers curled around the back of my neck beneath my hair, tracing tiny circles on my skin. “All week I’ve wanted just three things: hot wings, cold beer, and you.”*

I’m not one for open endings, especially when it comes to the romance, but I guess this was realistic. Still, I like my endings nice and tidy and wrapped up, so I was a little disappointed with this. Apart from that, I really enjoyed this story.

A copy was provided by Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

*Quote taken from an uncorrected proof and may change in the final copy.

Come visit The Readers Den for a chance to win my ARC copy.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,162 followers
September 23, 2013
Where the Stars Still Shine is something entirely special. When Doller’s Something Like Normal released last year, I knew I’d found a debut author to watch out for; little did I expect, however, that her sophomore novel would be this beautiful, poignant, and touching. And yet, perhaps the best thing is that no matter what it is that she’s writing, Doller’s passion for her work, her characters, and her settings is all so vivid and seeps through the pages, making her stories fly by in the span of a few short hours and our hearts heal, break, and mend all over again in the process.

In her sophomore novel, Doller veers away from war veterans and tackles on a subject just as raw and painful – abduction, abuse, and self-discovery. Ever since she could remember, Callie has been on the movie. When her mother made the decision to run away from her husband, taking young Callie with her, her daughter was forced to follow her from place to place, never stopping long enough to make friends to attend school. And yet, in those years Callie learned to be wary of her beauty, of the unwanted attention it gave her. When Callie’s mother finally gets caught, Callie is sent to live with her father, Greg, now re-married with two young sons. Now, in a small Florida town, Callie is re-discovering her Greek roots, finding a family that loves her, and even making friends. If only her mother will let her stay…

I won’t lie - Where the Stars Still Shine seems deceptively similar to countless stories all featuring a rocky mother-daughter relationship or step-parent; but it isn’t. From the beginning itself, Callie is an endearing protagonist, one whose loss and life-like characteristics set her apart from any previous heroines we might associate her with. When Callie arrives back home, not only is she surprised by the attention she receives from her family, but she’s surprised that the boys she meets actually want to take her out on a date and treat her right. It was at this point that my heart went out to her. No matter how many times I rant and rage about the sexual stereotypes, stigmas, and injustices of the world, the fact remains that I have never met a guy who has seen me as an object to be used and then discarded. For Callie, this is an entirely new revelation and as she comes to see her self-worth, my heart gradually began to mend itself as well.

One of the most impressive aspects of this novel, for me at any rate, was how closely linked Callie’s growth was to her own sexual desires. From a young age, Callie has never been treated well by men, leered at for her beauty and molested by her mother’s boyfriends. As such, sex has never been an act of pleasure for her. Yet, as Callie grows closer to people in her town, particularly Alex Kostas, the utterly swoon-worthy sponge-diver, she learns that sex is not an act of diminishing power, but rather empowerment. It is a truly remarkable moment to see Callie gain confidence in herself through the satisfaction she can gain from sex and though this is only a stepping stone in her growth, it is prevalent. Furthermore, Callie’s entire romance with Alex is sweet, believable, and bittersweet. It not only helps Callie, but also helps Alex for he too is a three-dimensional character, filling the page with his emotions just as much as Callie does. Together, these two are quite the pair and yet, my favorite aspect of their love story is its realistic conclusion. It broke my heart, but I left satisfied and hopeful as well.

And still, this book just keeps shining. Greg is the type of kind and caring father I’ve dreamed about throughout my childhood; the guy who understands and listens but is also upfront and honest and doesn’t shy away from showing affection. While his relationship with Callie went through its ups-and-downs, it progressed in a touching manner, both slightly awkward and hopeful of their future together. And, really, Callie’s relationships are this realistic and tight with nearly all the characters in the book, from her best friend to her grandmother to her step-brothers and even her step-mother. Callie’s own mother, of course, is still present throughout the book and Callie’s gradual emancipation from her mother’s grasp, her independence at choosing her life and finding her hobbies…they all comes together beautifully by the end. I promise you, you cannot go wrong with this gem. If Trish Doller doesn’t make you at least tear up once, then you’re reading the wrong book. And, perhaps best of all, this book gives you hope that this genre does really have so much more to offer. It’s still shining, maybe not as bright as this book, but still there.
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews202 followers
August 14, 2015

I really enjoyed this book. It's got a bunch of gritty elements -- at the age of 5, narrator Callie was kidnapped by her troubled mother following a bitter divorce, and they've been on the run ever since; one of her mother's boyfriends molested Callie when she was only 8; Callie assumes boys only want her for sex and has never said no to anyone -- and yet, the story in many ways feels as sunny as the town in Florida where Callie is sent to live with her father at long last, and where she learns what love and stability might actually be. I loved Callie's voice, which was so tough and so vulnerable at the same time; it rang really true to me for someone with her experiences. And her new-found, slightly crazy extended Greek family added a humorous and yet moving touch to the story, without going overboard.

I did have some issues with how the romance in the story seems to resolve all of Callie's other issues. This is yet another YA book where I see a character who could really benefit from getting some counseling, but instead her emotional issues are glossed over in favor of "The love of a good man will allow you to finally love and accept yourself." But since the love of a nice family also played into this, I'm letting it slide instead of whacking a star off.

An extended review may follow if I ever get my reviewing act back together. But I'm actually a little sorry to be leaving this story, so definitely recommended.

I am very grateful to Kelly Jensen and her blog Stacked, where I won a copy of this book.
589 reviews1,030 followers
September 25, 2013
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

1.5 stars

Thank you Bloomsbury Australia for sending me this copy. No compensation was given or taken to alter this review.

Either way, when she's ready to go, there is no arguing. There is only leaving.

I feel like such a black sheep right now, I don't even feel like a sheep. Yeah, that's one way to describe what I'm feeling this second. I was so so ready for this amazing, coming of age novel to wipe me off my feet but instead, I'm standing here awkwardly wondering what the hell happened. I've reluctantly concluded that this is an "it's me not you" situation.

In her early years, Callie was taken away from her large and loving family by her mother. They have been on the run ever since. However after an encounter with a policeman, Callie's mother is arrested for kidnapping her. Finally back with the family and home she's completely forgotten, Callie begins to slip herself back into society with plentiful supply of food and clothing- things that were scarce once before. In Trish Doller's latest, Where The Stars Still Shine explores family, friendships and true love themes through a teenage girl trying to adjust in her new and better life.

The two main points that let this novel down for me was the characters and romance which also happen to be the two main things I care about in a contemporary read. Let's talk about the characters first. I undoubtedly believed that I would connect with Callie effortlessly; her traumatising past being abused and ignored made me feel rather awful. Howbeit, Trish Doller did not do a convincing job at creating an empathetically-worthy character. I found myself having urges to scream at Callie for her views on people and even gender, and her poor decisions. Moreover, Callie's best friend (also cousin), Kat was really excitable in the sense that she got really dramatic and also very sensitive. Callie's first few pieces of dialogue with Kat on their first encounter already made her sob. So yeah, I just can't with Kat despite her good intentions towards Callie and motive to help Callie fit in. Another unexpected issue for me was Callie's parents. We have the selfish, absolutely out-of-her-mind mother who kidnaps her own child for nothing reasonable or solidly true. Then, there's Callie's father who doesn't give two thoughts about Callie's education. Good parents would never just let their child not go to school- also taking into account that Callie has only ever gone to kindergarten. In real life, school is something compulsory to every child and teen, so when on earth could Callie just nag her way out of it? Not. Cool.

The romance in this novel was dealt with poorly. I am not really a fan of love interests that seem to take all the worry away and be the solution to every problem. While Alex wasn't really a love interest that took all the worry away, I still felt that it hinted it throughout the novel. I might be wrong but I'm quite sure Callie hooks up with Alex after just knowing him for less than a day, and for me, I was not comprehending Callie's logic as I was already so quickly, becoming detached from the story. I do now, see that Callie was sexually abused at a young age and believed that all men wanted to have sex however the amount of times she puts forth this prejudice towards men just made me become exhaustively sick of it.

To be utterly honest, there wasn't much I actually enjoyed in Where The Stars Still Shine. While I appreciated Trish Doller's attempt of a coming of age novel about a completely messed up girl, I did not find myself able to resonate with any of the characters or the relationships made or rekindled. Nevertheless, I still feel the need to say that readers still should try this for I seem to be the odd one out about this book.
Profile Image for Louisa.
497 reviews364 followers
October 1, 2013
Ever fallen hard for a band after their first album and stalked their every move/cover/single for the second album expecting the same auditory brilliance, if not better? Ever bought the second album just to land hard back down on Earth because, dear God, what the ever-loving HECK happened to that amazing band you love (or used to love at this point)?

*points at this book*

I loved Trish Doller's debut novel Something Like Normal. It was beautifully written, the romance well-crafted, the character exposition and development exquisite. It was by far one of my favourite YA/NAs of last year. Did she seriously write this? It is nowhere near the standard of SLN.

I buddy-read this with the lovely Nenia. Both of us knew it wasn't getting better just a third in.

Callie, the MC, was kidnapped as a little girl by her mentally ill mother, incessantly forced to move from place to place, and was molested at the hands of her mum's boyfriend Frank without her mum's knowledge. When her mum is finally arrested, Callie's dad brings her home to Tarpon Springs to begin a new life with the support of a large Greek family.

Callie's been through a lot of shit. You'd expect to sympathise with her. That's the whole problem of the book. I get that she was brought into the world of sex in the worst way possible. She sleeps with a lot of guys. Even when her cousin Kat warns her off the "town playboy", Alex Kostas, Callie sleeps with him less than a day after meeting him. She continuously defies her father, Greg (who is incredibly sweet and loving), to sneak out of the house and go out with Alex/sleep with Alex more. She tells Greg she doesn't want to go to high school and her dad just lets her work without going to school. Look, that's not a normal life. In fact, Emily Murdoch's If You Find Me is a good example of a similar YA that did the story a lot more justice. The way Callie is characterised and the stupid decisions she makes leaves us little ground to feel sorry for her.

The insta-love between Callie and Alex is pretty unbelievable. I'd rather call it insta-lust. I didn't think it was healthy - also, Alex is basically Callie's step-uncle and 22 years old to her 17. This is her thought process literally thirty seconds after meeting him:

The air between us is thick with want. Mine. His. It doesn't make sense because I don't know him. I don't even know his name. He's only the most beautiful thing I've ever seen and I'm so, so tempted. But I also know how this ends. And after everything that's happened in the past two days, I'm not sure I want to add feeling like a slut to my to-do list.

But hey, she goes on to have sex with him not a day later...

Greg sums it up best:

Callie's learning curve is extremely steep. She continues being a wreck up to the last three or four chapters of the book, then suddenly realises how crappily she's been acting. It's too neat. It's not satisfactory.

All in all, 1.5 stars down rated now because I honestly did not enjoy it and found way too many faults with it. Nenia and I don't understand the glowing reviews. Is it just us? Whatever it is, I wouldn't recommend you pick this up. What a let-down.
Profile Image for Ginger at GReadsBooks.
371 reviews57 followers
September 14, 2014
Beautiful and unforgettable. Literally.


Original review posted at GReads!

I had the honor of reading a very early copy of this story (thank you Trish!), so I'll start by saying my review may be a bit biased since Trish is a friend of mine. However, even if I did not have the friendship I do with Trish, I know for a fact I would still love this woman's writing. Knowing the person behind these beautiful words is just an added bonus.

The story begins on the road with Callie, where she's been with her mother for as long as she can remember. The pair never took root anywhere, constantly on the move, running from something that Callie never knew about. In an early turn of events, Callie is taken from her mother and placed back in her father's home in Florida. Her new surroundings are foreign to her, and even though her father wants nothing more than to reintroduce the life that was once stolen from her, Callie still puts up a shield to protect herself.

In this new life comes a large Greek family, a new best friend, and the potential for a heartbreaking new love. While attempting to adjust to her new life, she is also battling the acceptance of what she lost. Should she be angry with her mother for keeping her away from this world her whole life? Or should she be running after her mom, fleeing the first minute she feels anxious? I really admired Callie's character because she harbors a lot of things a young girl should never have to witness, yet you see this bright light in her eyes that is full of hope and promise.

This story has different layers to it, and one of those layers that I could peel back again and again revolves around a boy named Alex. He has issues of his own, and perhaps that is what draws Callie to him first. But there's also a maturity to him that I found to be refreshing in a Young Adult novel. The pair of them lean on one another, supporting the other, realizing that life can be messy and the results are not always perfect. It was his imperfections that molded into Callie's beauty, which created such an unforgettable duo that felt beyond fictional to me.

I know this story will resonate with contemporary fans, but I have high hopes that it will engage a wide range of readers as well. Trish Doller creates exceptional characters, with such great attention to detail in her settings, that it becomes a world you're a part of and want to revisit time and time again.

Thank you Trish, for sharing Callie and Alex and everyone else in this story with me. It truly was a pleasure to see this story take form and breathe its own breath of life.
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,040 reviews464 followers
February 25, 2020
I still gave this a 5 star rating, even though I felt the ending was a bit rushed.
Callie is reunited with her father after years on the run with her mother. She has missed out on so much, and her father now has a new young family.

Callie has her own demons to contend with apart from trying to integrate into a ready made family. Alex helps her deal with some of the difficulties, but when her mother returns and tries to convince her to go on the run again, she has some major decisions to make.

I loved the relationship between Callie and Alex, which is why the ending disappointed me. I couldn't understand why Alex would be upset with Callie about the boat visit, so that also took away from the last third of the book. I get that Doller might have wanted this story to be more about Callie, and not her relationships with Alex, but that last scene was just so wooden and distant. I think the author should write a sequel or a novella, to catch us up to Callie and Alex, who have both had to endure so much in their young lives.
Profile Image for Rose.
1,854 reviews1,047 followers
January 15, 2014
Initial reaction: Probably 2.5 - 3 stars from me. I wanted to like "Where the Stars Still Shine" much more than I did, but Callie was just too unlikable for me to get behind. She didn't really have a sense of responsibility, and while parts of that I could say that was probably due to her upbringing and circumstances, othertimes, it was a bit too hard to suspend disbelief, particularly since the coming to terms was a bit too quick to digest in the end.

Full review:

My reflections on Trish Doller's "Where the Stars Still Shine" probably sum up best saying "It's not you, it's me" - and I don't do that with a lot of books. For all intents and purposes, this was well written and developed story. I can't take away from that at all. It's the kind of book I should've loved.

I do like reading about a myriad of different characters, including protagonists who are troubled and have a hard time adjusting from tragic circumstances. Callie's no exception to the part of being a troubled teen. Having been on the run with her mother for much of her life, Callie's world is thrown out of the familiar when her mother's arrested for kidnapping and she's returned to her father's home. Back to a big Greek family, back to little brother's she's never known, back to the possibility of living a normal life that's more stationary than she's ever been. It should be an ideal situation considering she's got a job in her lap, a father who's willing to provide her everything she needs and wants, and an insta-best friend (who was really her best friend as a child, but you can't compare a life lived at four years old to 17).

So, what would be the problem here? It's really the makings of providing Callie with the tools to pick up and start her life again, and for the platform of self-discovery, I could see Callie doing well for herself with the set up, though she'd have to deal with her internal demons.

The problem is that Callie simply can't let go of her old life and is constantly engaged in self-sabotage. I expected this, but at the same time, I don't know if I liked the portrayal, especially of her respective actions and character. She goes where she wants, when she wants, doesn't care about the consequences and how she worries other people without truly feeling the repercussions of those actions. I understood her respective histories, even sympathized with them, but I still think Callie didn't really go through a progressive coming of age here - it was too abruptly resolved in the last several chapters of the book. Her mother was a toxic presence to Callie as well as herself when she didn't have help. I understood this as well, and the pull of guilt that Callie had with leaving her behind, but I couldn't understand the constant lying by omission and excuses that came without due repercussions to the way Callie treated those around her so carelessly.

I also wasn't really convinced by the romance in this novel - Alex never really seemed to me to be more than just someone Callie had to escape her situations. And the whole mess with Connor...oy vey. I felt sorry for him, I really did.

It's not a bad story, not in the slightest, and I can see why some people would love it for how the protagonist overcomes some deeply rooted problems from her past, but I just had a difficult time with the narrative with the subject matter and factors considering the protagonist and her respective actions. I do think it was decent for a coming of age story, but again, I think my issues with Callie's portrayal kept me from feeling as invested as I would've been otherwise.

Overall score: 3/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Bloomsbury.
Profile Image for Liza Wiemer.
Author 5 books654 followers
July 21, 2013
Astonishing, breathtaking. Deeply moving. I can't say enough about how incredible I thought this novel was. It's one of those books you may want to read twice, just to take it all in.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for an ARC.

Seventeen-year-old Callie has had the childhood from hell. For at least ten years, she traveled from town to town to town with her mother. But life changes with the flash of blue lights and a trip to a police station. I don't want to ruin the story for anyone, so I won't say more about this. What transpires after is an incredible discovery of what it means to be loved by family, friends, and an incredible young man who has his own demons to face.

I loved this story.

Here's why:
1. Callie's brave ability to take life on and not apologize for what she's been through or who she is, but only for how her actions hurt others - it shows how she takes responsibility and how she has had to grow up way too fast. I admire her strength.
2. Callie's dad is flawed and awesome and real and kind and fumbles his way with enough love that it radiates off the pages.
3. Alex - he is sooooo misunderstood, but not by Callie, and, in turn, he understands Callie and doesn't judge her. Just loves and appreciates her and RESPECTS her for who she is. It's beautiful.
4. Yiayoula - Grandma - she's a tough old bird who could kick some major ass with her sharp tongue. She's got unwavering love that is a lesson for everyone.
5. Ekaterina (Kat) BFF - Oh yeah, this is who a friend should be . . . Kool, Kind, Kreative, THE BEST!
6. Tarpon Springs, FL (Yup, I want to go and visit. NOW.)
7. A big Greek family. Lots of love and fights and some yummy food.
8. Sponges - okay, you have to read the novel to understand this one.
9. Callie's ability to love and hate her mom and the same time, yet let love rule.
10. Snorkeling.
11. Callie and Alex. <3 <3 <3 <3
12. Two adorable little brothers.
13. The story is so beautifully written, honest, and shows the characters' vulnerability.
14. Even minor characters like Ariel are special and noteworthy. Theo too. Very cool. :D
15. The mention of the novel, MANDY! It's one of my ALL-TIME favorites, too.

Put this on your MUST read list! I have a feeling it'll be on many top ten lists.
Profile Image for Estelle.
852 reviews81 followers
May 26, 2015
2015 reread: just as addicting. So, so good. I love Greg.

My gosh. Magan is going to be writing the full review for Rather Be Reading Blog but I had to share my two cents on here.

I was a big fan of Something Like Normal. I'm always impressed when authors can convey so much in a short amount of pages, in such succinct writing styles and Doller totally did it there.

In When the Stars Still Shine though, whoa. Callie is fighting this obligation she has to her mother, even though she was the one to take her away from her dad and entire family when she was young. She's very independent and having her dad back in her life (along with a stepmom and two stepbrothers) is unchartered territory for her. Then there is Kat, who wants Callie and her to instantly be best friends like they were when they were little kids.

That's a lot of love and support when she is used to barely getting that from her mom.

Callie has plenty of demons to deal with, but Doller does not deny readers the lighter, sweeter moments. Decorating her trailer (in her dad's backyard), shopping with Kat, seeing Alex for the first time, her love of reading, snorkeling.

I loved the setting, the Greek culture, the many characters coming in and out of the book. I rarely read books in one sitting but When the Stars Still Shine was easy to get lost in. (I was also on a plane but I don't think that matters much.)

Doller has created such a complex story here about trusting other people and what it means to be a part of a family. And figuring out that sometimes you have to have the courage to move forward even though you have to leave someone else behind.

It's a beautiful story, and yes I cried. I need this on my bookshelf and so do you.
Profile Image for Sarah.
281 reviews54 followers
August 4, 2015
Since I read this an eternity ago, here’s a quick, disorganized rundown of my thoughts:

* The romance is terrible and goes something like this: Insta-love, Oh-you-must-be-mine, sex, small talk, talk about sponges, angst, more sex, indecisiveness, food, and small talk.
I do not approve.

The air between us is thick with want. Mine. His. It doesn’t make sense because I don’t know him. I don’t even know his name. He’s only the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and I’m so, so tempted.
This is the first time they meet. I repeat, THE FIRST TIME THEY MEET. Serve me up, insta-love.

* Our main character Callie refuses to process new information and is impulsive and dumb.
She's extremely frustrating and full of prejudices.
I get it, she’s been through a lot and all, but she was never relatable to me, and I gave zero shits about her.
Like when she finds out her mother has borderline, her father clearly says mental illnesses do not equal crazy (which is so important, and why the fuck are people still ignorant enough to believe so) Guess what Callie does on the next page?
’’Am I like her? If so, am I crazy too?’’
MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT A SYNONYM TO ''INSANITY''. You're just too ignorant to think beyond all the misconceptions about it.

Callie lies to everyone who cares about her and makes the stupidest decisions in the history of the universe.
Also, she is chocked when a boy doesn’t want her, simply because he’s a guy so his world automatically revolves around sex. *headdesk*

Good family dynamics is the only thing that saved this from being a total train wreck.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,211 reviews1,649 followers
September 24, 2013
Trish Doller’s debut novel wasn’t one that I ordinarily would have picked out or been particularly interested in, but the reviews convinced me to give Something Like Normal a try. That was a wonderful bookish decision, because, though the topic itself didn’t appeal to me, Doller still managed to lure me into the book, a hold that didn’t release until the last page. In fact, the main character wasn’t someone I could relate to in the slightest, and the kind of person I would ordinarily loathe, but Doller made me care for him. This is I think the biggest strength of her writing, one she brings to bear in Where the Stars Still Shine as Well. Doller’s sophomore novel does not disappoint, covering similarly gritty subjects in an emotional and frank way.

As with Doller’s first novel, her sophomore effort once again centers around a main character very much unlike myself. Callie has lived the life of a migrant, following her itchy-footed mother from place to place. They barely have enough to make ends meet, often skipping town on overdue rent checks. Since childhood, Callie’s life has always been this way, and she’s not been to school since kindergarten. Her only education comes from books, scavenged from sales or libraries; reading is one of her only joys. Abused by one of her mother’s boyfriends, Callie’s view of sex and herself has been warped. She feels dirty, tainted, and throws herself into meaningless sexual encounters almost to prove her own opinion of herself. In pretty much every way, Callie’s life has been entirely unlike mine, and her decisions are ones that I would never personally make. And yet Doller works her author magic, making me feel for this girl and empathize with her in a way I ordinarily would not be able to do. Doller brings Callie to life and puts the reader into her mind so solidly that her flawed mental processes make sense.

When her mother is arrested, Callie’s world upends. Suddenly, her mother, her only family and sole companion for the last twelve years, is out of her life, and she’s to live with her father and his new family. Feeling oddly uprooted, Callie really has a chance to lay down roots for the first time, to make friends and have a family. Callie evolves slowly and believably. Even though her new family supports her and the community accepts her, the patterns of the previous decade are hard to break, and she continually makes decisions that push people away or that she knows to be unwise, like her hook ups with the hottest guy in town, Alex Kostas. As the book progresses, what I found most touching and powerful in Callie’s narration was the way it really opened up, the tone becoming cheerful and childlike as she feels settled and safe enough to really let go for the first time in years.

The familial relationships form the backbone of Where the Stars Still Shine. Though largely absent during the novel, Callie’s mother holds powerful sway over her. Even as the lies she’s been told surface, Callie cannot sever the ties to her mother, who was her whole world for so long. The power parents have over the emotions of their children is horrifying. Meanwhile, Callie’s father, Greg, is incredibly sweet but also awkward, trying to find the young child he lost in this distant seventeen-year-old. Basically Greg wins for planning to build Callie a library. Even Greg’s wife, who in many novels would be a villain, has a back story and depth to her, and helps Callie progress.

For the first time ever, Callie has the chance to make real friends. Initially, I was not a huge fan of Kat, Callie’s cousin, who barges into her life and claims best friend status. Kat comes across as pushy and selfish, forcing Callie into a set up with Connor, who really isn’t Callie’s type. Kat annoyed me and didn’t seem to be helping Callie much either. Towards the end of the book, though, Kat almost made me cry with her thoughtfulness, hidden under her rambunctious exterior. Though not a kindred spirit perhaps, she’s just the kind of person needed to help pull Callie out of her shell, emotional, open with her feelings, and understanding.

Where the Stars Still Shine does get fairly steamy, but not to a level that I find in any way inappropriate for a YA novel. Alex Kostas totally fooled me. I thought there was nothing to him but a guy looking to get laid, but he’s actually got his own reasons for being where he is. Actually, all people do, and that’s an easy thing to forget. I judged Alex off of that first moment he appeared, and that wasn’t all there was to him. I really like the way Doller handles the relationship between Callie and Alex. It hit just the right note and differed from so many YA romances.

Just last week, I visited Florida, and my friend, Kara, pointed out a heavily Greek neighborhood as she drove past while taking me to the airport. She even told me she’d bought her bath sponge there, which I thought was a really odd comment. Like, big whoop, it’s a sponge. However, I’m so glad she pointed these things out to me, because Where the Stars Still Shine takes place in Florida in a predominantly Greek community. Callie works in a shop that sells sponges to tourists and Kostas works on a sponging boat. The setting is a delight, the Greek characters shining with the same sort of close-knit community that I loved so much in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Where the Stars Still Shine, though, is that Doller doesn’t wrap everything up in a neat, shiny bow. Callie’s come a long way by the end, and so have some of the other characters, but there are still a lot of issues lingering. Though the ending is fairly happy, it’s not a happily ever after and it’s most definitely bittersweet. Real life doesn’t tend to get to complete perfection, and ending realistic fiction that way often seems misleading to me. Doller’s ending both satisfies and leaves room for a future with problems and changes.

Much as I loved Something Like Normal, I may even have loved Where the Stars Still Shine even more. Either way, Doller has cemented herself as one of the finest contemporary YA novelists. Her novels draw the reader in and help create empathy for people in situations that might be radically different from one’s own.
Profile Image for Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner).
378 reviews1,713 followers
October 11, 2015
Everything about this book was flawless for me. I literally can’t think of one thing about it that could have been better. Trish Doller wrote a story that made my heart explode into pieces so small they shouldn’t have been able to been able to be put back together — but somehow she managed to put them back together with a moving story of family, second chances, love and facing your future despite your past. If you like amazing character development that feels incredibly real and makes you feel emotions so fiercely, pick this book up. The plot was immediately interesting to me and the characters just took it and ran and I didn’t want to pull myself out of the story because I was so immersed in it. Such a COMPLETE story that reminds me of why I love reading!

Read my full review here
Profile Image for Jenna D..
1,026 reviews144 followers
August 30, 2013
This review can be found on my blog, Jenna Does Books.

I struggled writing my review for WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE by Trish Doller. Not because the book lacked for anything (because it doesn’t), nor because I didn’t like it (because I adore it). More-so, I struggled because I wanted to adequately put into words just how much this story means to me, both as a reader as well as someone who is highly familiar with the book’s setting. Rare is it that one has the opportunity to read a book that takes place in their own hometown. Rarer still is when that book turns out to be both exhilarating and profound, something simply unforgettable. WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE is such a book.

Trish is carving a place for herself in the world of contemporary fiction as an exceptional author who writes about situations that many of us hardly even dare to imagine in our normal, everyday lives – things that we only hear about from the news. What’s more is that she is not afraid to take these already stark situations to even darker places and weave her ideas into realistic works of imaginative fiction that make you think. In Something Like Normal, Trish explores how a military man with PTSD deals with returning to a house that is something less than normal. In WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE, Trish ups her game by telling the story of a young lady who was never given the opportunity to live a “normal” life, having been on the run with her unstable mother for the past ten years. How Callie reacts when she is suddenly given the family she had been denied all those years will both amaze you and break your heart.

As I said before, one of the biggest selling points when I found out about WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE (aside from the fact that I adore the author and her previous work) was the fact that it takes place practically in my own backyard. While this fact alone may not be a selling point for you, the fact that Trish really couldn’t pick a better setting – a setting that is as much a part of the story as any of the main characters (in fact, the location is like a character unto itself) – should be reason enough for me to address it. Tarpon Springs, Florida is one of (if not the) largest concentrations of Greek people in the United States. If you know anything about Greek families, they are usually large, highly cultural and set in tradition and, essentially, the prime definition of a “close knit family”.

The point I am trying to make is this: Imagine you are a young boy or girl who has never truly been close to anyone but your own (undependable and not always there for you) mother. You have no roots, no real home, no family… Suddenly, your mother is taken away and you are whisked off to a place you are now told is your “home”. This “home” consists almost entirely of people of Greek decent within a small town community where everybody knows your name (everybody knows everybody’s name, for that matter). Suddenly, you find yourself being nurtured and loved by others and you’re given a place to finally put down some roots. How do you think you would handle it? I think that, much like Callie, I would be a bit overwhelmed and confused, to say the least.

Note: I myself am not Greek, nor was I kidnapped by my own mother, but I am an Air Force brat (who has never really stayed in any single location for more than a few years, nor do I really have contact with my own extended family) and I married into an Italian family; so I kind of understand Callie’s sudden “thrust” into a large family setting. Not to mention, I frequently visit Tarpon Springs, so I know quite a bit about how very “Greek” the community is. I know how overwhelming being put into such a place would be for someone more familiar with being a “loner”…

Callie reacts in many different ways in her new world, some of which I could totally get behind and accept, and others that, honestly, quite baffled me. At first, we learn very little about Callie’s experiences with her mother over the past ten years. We know that she has not had it easy, no doubt, but we do not know enough to fully understand why Callie reacts as she does early on. This may make some of the events early in the book – specifically when it comes to how Callie treats others and the matter of her sexual experiences – hard for some readers to swallow. But, when appropriate, little pieces of Callie’s past are brought to light and suddenly it all makes sense, or as much sense as can be made when it deals with Callie and her unfortunate upbringing, at least.

In spite of the bleakness of Callie’s past, there are so many moments of beauty within WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE. As the title implies, there is just as much light within these pages as there is darkness. You will often feel that Callie’s community is embracing you, the reader, just as they are embracing Callie. Some of my favorite characters include the tenaciously optimistic, Kat, as well as Callie’s yiayoula (grandmother). The goodness within these pages far outshine the badness.

While there is PLENTY of romance in WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE, and the leading man, Alex, is quite the “catch” (pardon the pun, you’ll get it when you read the book), I found that the book shone best when dealing with Callie’s personal issues. The fact that Callie must deal with the skeletons of her past is the driving emotional force within the book. Much like Travis from Something Like Normal, Callie has a lot that she must move past if she is ever to have a brighter future. Still, the romance is realistic, certainly not instantaneous, and some of the best scenes of the book include the interactions between Callie and Alex. He is a man that any girl would be lucky to find. The events surrounding a day of snorkeling late in the book will forever remain some of the most emotionally gripping scenes I have ever read in YA. Ever.

If only all girls who have no real family or home – those who have suffered just as much, if not more than, Callie – would be lucky enough to have the chance to be welcomed into at least one pair of open arms sometime in their lives. There is goodness in the world and WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE gives you hope that the stars really do shine for us all.
Profile Image for Jaime Arkin.
1,417 reviews1,332 followers
January 2, 2015
It’s near impossible to write reviews for books that I love. I always worry that I won’t explain fully to those of you reading it about why I think you should spend your money on a copy.

Where the Stars Still Shine falls into this category of book for me. I’ve actually had this book since early May. I read it even before going to BEA, and since then, I’ve opened up documents and attempted writing down my feelings about it over and over. I might probably still be staring at a blank document if the book wasn’t coming out next week and I felt compelled to share my feelings!

This book begins with Callie on the road with her mom. For as long as she can remember it’s been the two of them, moving from city to city, barely making it. But a chance traffic stop changes everything that Callie has known. Her mom is accused of kidnapping her and she’s handed over to a complete stranger.

The man standing in the sheriff’s office lobby the next day – the one with his hands jammed deep in the pockets of his jeans – is a stranger, but I recognize him the same way I recognize my own face.”

Her father has been looking for her since the day she was taken from him and his family and having Callie back can only be a blessing. Suddenly she’s thrust into a huge Greek family she never had the chance to know… in the span of a few days she goes from having one person in her life to more than she can count. But she is haunted by the things in her past… and her mother. But we also see how she worries that there just isn’t room in his life for her.

Their family is perfect and happy, and I wonder if there is room in the picture for a seventeen-year-old girl. Do I want to be in that picture? Do I have a choice?

Seeing her struggle with where she fits in and how she fits in was hard at times, but so wonderfully done in my opinion. But while Callie’s attempt at finding her new life and overcoming her past is the main part of this story, it’s so much more than that. As you read, you’ll reveal layer after layer of different pieces of this story.

I have to tell you about Alex.

He has a blue bandana tied around his dirty-blond curls, and when he bends down for another sponge, there’s a sweat-stained spot on his grey shirt where it sticks between his shoulder blades. He glances up, and his face is something so fine and beautiful, it makes my chest ache the way it does when I hear a sad song or finish a favorite book.

Now picture this.
 photo 0ae7354d58158409a8af8406ab48e267_zps65a5b3bd.jpg

Alex hasn’t had it easy… he’s got his own story to tell and I’m not going to tell much about it here, but the connection he and Callie have was so amazingly done. They both are mature beyond their years… they’ve had to be. And while there is enough sweet and swoon in this story:

”All week I’ve wanted just three things: hot wings, cold beer, and you.”


”And here I thought I was your first mermaid.”

“Goddess,” he says. “You are my first goddess.”

There is more to their relationship than that. They lean on each other and along the way I think they learn that you have to be willing to open yourself up to the people in your lives.

The secondary characters here were also really well done. From Kat the best friend, to her father, to Yiayoula (grandma) we are exposed to some wonderful and amazing characters. And in a YA world where parents are rarely present I loved that we got to see so much of her father and his attempts to make her see how much he missed her and only wants her in his life however that may end up being. He never forces her into things and that was lovely to see.

On that note, I think I’m going to leave this review… I don’t want to say too much, I feel like I’ve said too little. But I do hope that you all run out and get your copy of this on the day it releases. I think you’ll fall in love with the wonderful characters that Doller has created and the realistic way she’s written them.

I would like to note that this book deals with some pretty heavy topics, sexual abuse, mental illness things that you might want to be warned of ahead of time. But they were handled perfectly, never overdone or in a way just to stir drama.

Thank you to Trish for the advanced copy. Someday I imagine I’ll get it back from Meg.

This review can be found on my blog, Fic Fare:

Profile Image for Kim  *Mo Chridhe*.
183 reviews41 followers
October 7, 2013
3.5 stars

Being the emotional reader that I am, I knew that I was headed for good things when I started to tear up early into the story. Callie is a seventeen-year-old girl who was abducted by her mother when she was only five. She knows this, yet she stays with her mother because she was made to believe that her father didn't love and want her. They spend their lives constantly on the run, squatting in model homes, abandoned houses and overstaying in cheap motels. During an unplanned move in the middle of the night, they are caught and Callie's mom is arrested. Callie is then returned to her father and must now learn how to live with a new family while coming to terms with the consequences of her mother's actions.

What was especially heartbreaking for me was Callie's care for her mother even when she knew of the truth and saw the life that was stolen from her. She worried about her all the time and even went to great lengths to protect her.
Life with her is wonderful and terrible, but at least I know how to be her daughter.

For the longest time, she longed to plant her roots somewhere, but now that she's returned to her hometown, she struggles to be part of this new life. She doesn't recognize the place and doesn't remember her relatives. Most of all, she doesn't know how to be a "normal" girl. She continually breaks rules that her father sets for her and hurts the people who reach out to her. Instead, she gravitates towards Alex, the man-boy who is all kinds of wrong for her. A lot of her decisions frustrated me, yet I couldn't bring myself to hate her, especially since I know that it's not that easy to undo the lifetime of conditioning that she had.
I can pack a suitcase in less than five minutes, I can wash my hair in a rest-stop sink, and I know all the words to all the songs on Pearl Jam's first album, but my mother has never taught me any practical life skills."

I hated Callie's mother for being negligent and irresponsible with her, One thing that bothered me a lot was how Callie wasn't made to see a psychologist or social worker upon her return. Given her mother's history I would think that that would be the first step before anything else. I also didn't approve of the sudden relationship between Callie and Alex. What's funny is that I started the book berating Callie for hooking up with him so fast when she should be focusing on other things at the time, but somewhere along the middle I fell for Alex's character when he turned out to have more depth than what I initially thought. By the end of the book I was rooting for his own personal story and wanted to see him succeed and grow

What I loved best was how this book succeeded in touching me with its story and the emotions that it made me feel. I liked how Callie's father was patient and loving towards her even when she messed up multiple times. And even though I wanted her to I also loved how Callie made more effort to build a relationship with her family I easily connected with her character and identified with her conflicted feelings for her mother and her new surroundings.

Despite my few issues I still liked this book a lot. I enjoyed imagining Tarpon Springs and reading about the Greek-American community - something new to me as a reader. My rating might have to do with reading it so soon after Something Like Normal, which is a personal favourite. But still, I found this book very engaging and heartwarming. I like how Ms. Doller manages to tackle personally traumatic events without making them all-consuming to the character. And what I loved, with SLN and this, is how the characters still make mistakes even while on the path of redemption. It feels real. I sometimes found that the prose was not "tight" but I enjoy simple, honest writing, and for me, this had that.
Profile Image for Anna.
54 reviews81 followers
July 5, 2014
Some preliminary thoughts: Trish Doller can write, y'all. I teared up multiple times while reading this book, for friendship reasons, father daughter reasons, mother daughter reasons, innocence reasons, acceptance reasons...lots of reasons. Also, I think that this book may appeal to those who read Uses for Boys and came away disappointed not by the subject matter but by the execution. Callie benefits from the more developed characterization that many felt Anna lacked, and the focus is primarily on the after rather than the before and during. Finally, I love that Doller is so fearless in her writing: her characters are allowed to swear, allowed to have sex, allowed to make mistakes and be bitchy and apologize sometimes and not other times, and her stories are self-contained and wonderful and hopeful even while they embrace the fact that not every end is a beginning, and even kissing the most beautiful boy on the mouth can be tinged bittersweet.
Profile Image for Zemira Warner.
1,569 reviews1,037 followers
April 21, 2015
No, no, no, no, no!

Just no!
Profile Image for Ali.
769 reviews1 follower
September 7, 2016
This book was undoubtedly extremely good, I just found myself wanting more of everything really, leaving me with an unsatisfied feeling.

UPDATE 07/09/16
I've moved rooms and so therefore having to go through my book collection and have decided to donate some books, including this one. I just found it so lacking and just, something big was missing, and it was the connection to the characters that makes me love books like this, and I just didn't feel it at all here. It just lacked the Morgan Matson touch.
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews713 followers
June 3, 2013
It’s a mash up of Dessen and Elizabeth Scott of unexpected sweet family moments for someone with baggage galore except this read older, especially in the romance department. But first, to the good. She’s torn between what she’s known for such a long time: not happy but not broken over where she finds herself. I like the whole thing of her being who she is: loyal but angry, especially as she knows who’s been doing the saving all along. I like that she knew what she could do and not do and there were moments too, where she’d question where she should be, for whom and why.

These conflicting sides: that she wouldn’t be who she was and where she was if not for the decisions of others, but then she’s given a choice… and boom: me, sucked in because while some of this was good, a whole lot more was different. Sometimes she’d be all old soul, other times she’d be little girl lost, or other times still, she’d be both. She’s no innocent, growing up, raising herself has done that… but moments of this make her innocent because she doesn’t know how to be like the rest of them. That she’s different is truth and some of her choices had me fearing the path she was going… but she went anyway. Then there’s the guy whose connection to her had me questioning the set up a little more, because while she wasn’t like the kids her age, she still was… a kid, I mean. And he… wasn’t baggage free either.

So them together, did I want them together or not? Only then I see that they’re nothing that simple. Nothing about her and about the people she’d found herself with was simple… And darn it, I really liked this one even if I cant say that I enjoyed it because moments had me wondering at what the heck she was getting herself into, other moments still had me tearing up for her, no, for all of them.

This is how she’s her own woman, not kid. First, there’s how she read like a kid in the not knowing and the being unsure, but then there’s another aspect where she’d turn things around in doing what worked for her. Good contrast that make for a lead who’s more than interesting.
Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
August 3, 2015
The one thing I've noticed about Trish Doller's writing style, is that she can capture your attention within a few pages and holds you captive until you turn that final page. Callie has lived her life out of a suitcase, often taking off in the middle of the night at the insistence of her mother. Over ten years ago, Callie was stolen from her father, a man her mother claims only ever wanted her daughter to spite her. With no regard for Callie's safety, she brings home a multitude of men to entertain, one now being the cause of Callie's night terrors. Feeding herself from vending machines, having never been to high school, Callie has taught herself from old textbooks often while fleeing from town to town. It isn't until her mother is pulled over for a routine traffic check, that Callie is plucked from the side of the road and moved back to the lazy seaside town in Florida with her legal guardian, her father. Her father has since remarried, has had two boys of his own and is but one of a large Greek family, all who have been missing her terribly since she was taken.

Reminding me a little of My Big Fat Greek Wedding in parts, I loved Callie's big, loud, extended family. They accepted her into the fold, flaws and all. Her cousin and newly appointed best friend Kat has big pans for Callie, including setting her up with a nice guy to double date. But it's local womanising diver Alex that has caught Callie's eye. Alex is lovely, not at all what the rumours from cousin Kat has painted him by and is as attracted to Callie as she is to him. But Alex is a troubled young man and before Callie realises, she'll be mixed up in his troubles with his family. Driving a wedge between them.

Trish Doller is a remarkable author, creating engaging and entertaining storylines that readers can resonate with. Like The Devil You Know, you'll find yourself reading long into the night. Her characters are incredibly vivid, flawed, yet likable and most importantly relatable. Trish is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors and looking forward to seeing what she is working on next.
Profile Image for Jessi Kirby.
Author 11 books1,335 followers
July 6, 2013
Oh, the love I have for this book! Family, romance, the sea, and a little Greek town I now have to visit! You guys are gonna love this one!
Profile Image for Jillyn.
732 reviews
July 14, 2014
Only one thing about Callie's life is constant- her mother. The mother that took her away from her family over a decade ago. Now Callie's life consists of month-to-month apartments and hotels, food that she can get from a vending machine down the street, and clothes that she gets at local thrift stores boasting that town's names and schools to help her fit in. And let's not forget the slew of less than honorable men that her mother spends time with. But that life comes to an end when Callie's mother is finally arrested for her kidnapping... And Callie is taken to live with her father, in a proper home. She has to learn all over again what it's like to be in a family, to be loved, and to learn the roots she'd all but forgotten.


I'll be the first one to admit, I was a little leery about reading this title. I'd seen so many reviews raving and praising it that I was afraid that my opinions couldn't live up to the hype that it caused. Well, all I can say is that I was definitely not disappointed. This book is worth every bit of praise that it collects.

What might be the biggest pro of this book, in my opinion, is the protagonist, Callie. She's a refreshing heroine, who is strong and relatable while still being somewhat confused in her life and unsure of where she fits in to the grand scheme of it all. I think this juxtaposition is part of what makes the writing of this story so real. These conflicting traits work in harmony to represent a character with more depth, more personality. I was rooting for her from page one until the end.

This book also features one of my soft spots- Greek characters. Callie learns that the family she was forced to leave behind as a child is a large Greek one, and they live in a largely Greek community in Florida. The exceptionally handsome love interest, Alex, is also of this persuasion. I don't know why I have a thing for the Greeks (since I myself am Polish and Irish), but I do, and so I found this added level of Callie finding about where she's come from to be a pleasant surprise.

The writing itself is well detailed and pretty, while still having a layer of grit that I can't quite explain. But the narration allows for the story to seem pure and nonfiction, despite the fact that it is a fictional piece of work. I hate to use this word, because it's rather ambiguous, but it has a good "flow" to it that makes it easy to read in one sitting- the reader can easily lose themselves in the plot.

Plus, the cover work is gorgeous. It's definitely on my list of best covers for this year.

I've read quite a few books that feature a less-than-well mother/daughter relationship. Some of these I've liked well enough, and a few I didn't care for at all. Where the Stars Still Shine is the first that has blown me away entirely, perfectly captured the complexities of the emotions involved in a dynamic such as this, and has made me so adamantly support a female protagonist.

Where the Stars Still Shine is the first book that I have read by author Trish Doller, but it will most certainly not be the last. I recommend it to fans of YA romance, contemporary novels, or realistic fiction.

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA Children's Books for my copy. This review can also be found on my blog, Bitches n Prose.
Profile Image for Donna .
468 reviews124 followers
September 5, 2013
Where the Stars Still Shine was a quietly powerful book that is impossible to put down once you begin. I found myself up into the wee hours of the morning even though I had to work in just a few short hours but I simply had to finish the book. I tried putting it down a few times but couldn't get the story out of my head so had to return to it. I was able to relate to and connect with Callie in such a way that I was lost in her story. My heart ached for her lonely life with a mentally unstable mother putting her in unsafe situations, never knowing any stability, never staying in one place long enough to put down roots or even make a friend. As angry as I was at a mother who could put her child through this, I also understood Callie's unwavering loyalty to her mother despite her own frustration with her choices.

"How could my mom be so selfish? Taking the pills would have kept us here. Taking the pills would have kept her from hooking up with Frank. All she had to do was take the goddamn pills and her life, my life, would have been ordinary. Happy."

While the story itself was heartbreaking, it was the authenticity of the characters that made it so deeply moving. I could completely understand how such a transient upbringing could cause Callie to have difficulty making connections and picking up on social cues. The awkward way she interacted with her newfound family and peers felt genuine and I could completely understand how out of place and uncomfortable she felt around these people that she had so little in common with. I can't begin to imagine how overwhelming it would be for a teenager in her situation but I definitely felt it along with her in the story.

I'm usually pretty skeptical about most romance but I really enjoyed the dynamic between Callie and Alex, both feeling so out of place for their own reasons and finding a kind of solace in each other. I liked Alex but he was definitely more of a background character. If there is anything that could have been improved in this book, it is that the secondary characters could have had more depth.

Where the Stars Still Shine is a beautifully written story that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys reading an emotional contemporary story with realistically damaged characters and uncomfortable subject matter. This is one of my favorite reads of 2013 and I look forward to discovering more from this author. I think that she captures her character's thoughts and feelings perceptively and handles difficult topics head on without exaggerating or minimizing it.
Profile Image for Jen.
876 reviews113 followers
September 10, 2013
5 stars
I remember reading Trish Doller’s debut novel last year, Something Like Normal, and really super enjoyed it. I was more than ecstatic to pick up the Stars Still Shine, and, after reading it, I can happily say that this made it to my 2013 favorites.

Laced with a gorgeous writing style throughout the entire novel, Where the Stars Still Shine was a vivid story with a very realistic setting in the small town in Florida. This particular setting really enhanced the story for me, and it was utter perfection.

Not only this, but the characters in this story were also incredibly lovable and heart-wrenching. If I wasn’t from the start, I became so attached to each and every character by the end that I couldn’t help but tear up a little when the story ended. Doller has that affect on you: the one where she creates such authentic characters that you sometimes question why they ended up in a fictional book, and not in reality. Callie, the deeply wounded main character, progresses slowly throughout the story, since she did not live a normal life through her growing years. I have to say that I didn’t agree with all of her decisions, but they were all understandable in her situation. While she doesn’t fully recover by the end of the story, Doller leaves the reader knowing that things do get better for her, and it’s an overall beautiful feeling.

The romance. Oh, the romance. At first, I wasn’t even sure this particular guy in the story was the love interest, but I couldn’t have asked for a better guy for Callie. The romance starts off as a pure insta-lust kind of love, but Doller really dives into the nitty-gritty of it all and it really becomes a romance that is swoon-worthy, genuinely flawed, and real. Have I mentioned that this guy is swoon-worthy? YUM.

I’m not sure if I can go any further to convince you to pick this book up, because seriously, this contemporary is magnificently written with unbelievably real characters and a die-hard romance. Where the Stars Still Shine will make your heart unfold their wings and soar– I bow down to you, Trish Doller.

Check this review and more at Books and Other Happy Ever Afters
Profile Image for Tracey Neithercott.
Author 1 book117 followers
June 6, 2013
I’ve been sitting here, going on five minutes now, trying to write this review. And it sucks—the nonwriting, that is—because there is so much to say about this book. Somehow, though, I’m not sure it’ll get across how much I truly loved it.

Here’s the thing about Trish Doller’s Where the Stars Still Shine: It simultaneously rips your heart out and puts it back together. I meant that, too. There’s no heart-wrenching beginning with a happy end. It’s all woven together—blips of Callie’s past here, flashbacks to a childhood trauma there, and the intersection of her past and future. It’s so well done that even though the book touches on some heavy topics, I couldn’t help smiling by the end.

I loved Callie’s transformation, her slow progression toward independence. I loved the romance—with her father’s new wife’s brother (twist your head around that), who seems so wrong for her and ends up being so perfectly right. But most of all I loved her father Greg.

Doller could have written Greg so many ways, could have used him to create more trauma or pain in Callie’s life. Instead, she gave Callie one of the kindest, most loving fathers I’ve ever read in YA. Greg’s in pain after his daughter is kidnapped from him, he’s elated to have her return, and he’s torn when she’s closed off. He’s always there, always chipping away at her.

If scenes of Callie’s past broke my heart, scenes with her and her father put it back together. I’m usually all for the kissing in books, but in this one I found myself longing for those moments between Callie and her dad instead.

Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that the ending was completely satisfying without feeling like Doller tidied it up with a nice bow just to have a happy ending. If you liked Doller’s debut Something Like Normal, you’ll like this book. I really enjoyed that novel, but I liked this one better.
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