A copy of this novel was provided by Bloomsbury Australia in exchange an honest review.
Trish Doller is fast becoming my go-to author when I am in need of a heartbreakingly fantastic contemporary young adult novel. When I read her first novel, Something Like Normal, it inspired a new love and appreciation for a story that can be told of people living in the now, in the real world, and coping with issues that are relevant to many readers. Which is why I knew that I had to read Where the Stars Still Shine. And it did not disappoint.
Doller has this amazing ability to create these absolutely tortured characters that have not let their experiences take away who they are. In Where the Stars Still Shine, we have Callie. Callie was kidnapped by her mother at age five, and has been practically homeless for the last twelve years. When her mother is arrested, and she goes to live with her father, she is privy to the world and the life she might have had.
Callie is really quite broken. She’s never really had a family (except for her mother), or friends. She’s never been schooled, and her childhood is filled with horrors that no child should ever have to face. But she’s not cruel or hard because of it. Yes, she isn’t particularly savvy at how to act around her new family and friends, or how to approach a nice boy who wants to date her. But that’s more than understandable. She didn’t grow up in a lovely community. She didn’t get to grow up at all – maturity was thrust upon her against her will.
Through the confusion of finding herself in a completely different life than the one she has known, Callie finds Alex.
Alex. Perfect Alex. There are scenes in this book, where Callie asks Alex not to do a certain thing, or to do another thing, and from the outside – they’re kind of weird requests. But Alex accepts Callie’s boundaries. No questions, no pushing. And this kind of acceptance is amazing. Alex is amazing. And exactly what Callie needed. She needed to know that boys could want her for something other than her body, and that there are boys who won’t just take but will also give, as well. She needed to know that there are good guys out there, as well as bad. And Alex teaches her this, and with all the tenderness and beauty one can imagine. For the first time, I didn’t find myself wanting an Alex for myself because Alex is Callie’s. Callie needs Alex more than anyone else, and I could never want for them to be apart.
I think the most heartbreaking aspect of Where the Stars Still Shine is the decisions that Callie has to face. Yes, her mother was not the best parent in the world, but she was the only one Callie has ever had. And you cannot just forget twelve years with someone, no matter what transpired. But Callie also wants this new life with her dad, and her little brothers, and her grandmother. She wants a chance at being something more than a runaway; a kidnapped child. But to do that, she has to leave her mother behind, and she’s not sure if she’s ready to betray her mum like that. And it’s heartbreaking. Because I wanted Callie to have this new life of hers, and be with Alex and work at the gorgeous bookstore, but I also knew that she would never be happy if her mother truly thought that Callie had betrayed her. So even though I wanted her to be happy, and leave the horrible parts of her life behind, I didn’t want her to have to deal with the repercussions of choosing that life. And that was heartbreaking.
I think that Doller is the queen on contemporary YA novels that really reach into your heart and really delve into issues that other books may not want to expose. She’s absolutely amazing, and I know that her novels will be ones that will be talked about in years to come. When I read them, they’re not targeted at 2013 or 2014. I think you could place these characters in whatever time you wanted, and that’s a true art right there. To have a book that can last through the ages, and that will be able to touch the hearts of readers not only now, but into the future, as well.
© 2014, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.