“Every girl needs a string of these for her room,” She says. “Not only are they beautiful, but when you have fairy lights, you’re never completely in the dark.”
– Trish Doller, Where the Stars Still Shine
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.
When I received Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller I had quite a mixed response; my first thought was how pretty the cover is, and my second was slight concern for the story it might tell. Reading the blurb reminded me of the new adult fiction that has surfaced over the last two years. For those of you who may not have heard this term before, new adult fiction is a much darker and sexier version of young adult fiction. I have read quite a few books that could be classed as new adult and I never feel better for having read them. They are too dark; every character has so many issues in their lives – all forms of abuse, broken homes etc – and they are eventually healed by an all-encompassing love from another equally tormented soul. They are so full of doom and gloom that I avoid reading them to avoid feeling so down afterwards. What I really liked about Doller’s story is her ability to deal with a dark issue without losing the lightness that leaves both the characters and the readers feeling ok at the end of the book.
Seventeen-year-old Callie hasn’t had the most normal of upbringings. She has been on the run with her mentally unstable mother for the last ten years and when that finally catches up with them, Callie is suddenly thrown into the ‘normal’ life she has so desperately craved. Overwhelmed by the opportunities she now has, Callie must learn to let people in and to stop running from the dark parts of her past.
There is a lot to like about this book. The writing style is easy and consistent, and the characters are all quite likable. Callie is your typical teen despite her unconventional upbringing. Her desire to be normal – whatever that is – is something every person can relate to. She struggles to find her place in the world she left when she was a little girl; while she was squatting in people’s homes and running from the ghosts that chased her mother, the life she left behind continued to go on. When she is thrown back into that life, she finds it hard to be the person they remember her to be.
I think Doller dealt with the issues she chose to explore really well; even when she explored the issues of mental health and physical abuse, the story never lost the element of lightness that featured in the other parts of the book. The characters all have their demons but I found it to be a more realistic interpretation than some of the other books like this one. Some of the characters – especially the nosy grandmother – are a delight to read and I finished this book with a smile on my face!
AUTHOR: Trish Doller
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Australia
PUB DATE: August 2015
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!