Book Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Posted September 9, 2013 by Kara in book review, Kara / 20 Comments

Book Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish DollerWhere the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on September 24th, 2013
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Pages: 216
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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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 small-town 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.

Tarpon Springs is an interesting place. It has a ton of character, it’s a little bit eccentric, and it’s most definitely an awesome place for a book setting. After finishing Where the Stars Still Shine I knew I had to go. It’s only a little over an hour’s drive from where I live, and this was my first opportunity to bring a bookish setting to life right before my very eyes. I think the author did a fantastic job rendering the setting throughout the narrative as it was pretty much exactly how I pictured it. 


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I walked the streets, and I easily pictured Callie and Alex walking them too. This book brought out so much emotion in me and I know I cried at least three times. I didn’t sob or anything, but I did tear up more than once. Here’s a hint though: I cry a lot. Or at least I used to. Now it takes quite a bit for a book to bring out that kind of emotion in me. I need to really connect to the story and the characters. This is kind of like me with Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. All those characters felt like real people to me. I wanted to meet them and I hoped they were real. They weren’t, but…it certainly felt to me like they could have been and I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were. For instance, is this the store that Callie worked at with Kat?
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It easily could have been. Sidenote: This is where I bought my sponge. I also bought a t-shirt. And the guy behind the counter could have been Alex’s hot older brother. He was seriously one of the most beautiful men I have EVER seen. Totally not my type, but I still can appreciate the good looks. 

Alex was the perfect character for me to swoon over. First of all, he was twenty-two. That helps since I really can’t crush on teenagers anymore as it’s not exactly legal. Not only that though, but I loved his personality, how mysterious he was (but not in a cliche way), and how sweet he was. 

Thing is, all the characters were perfectly flawed. I didn’t love them all, but that’s okay. Like, I had moments with Kat. There were times when I liked her, but there were times when she was selfish and annoying. The same could be said for Callie though. And definitely her mother. And even though I felt the story was resolved maybe a little too easily, I still enjoyed it very much. Maybe giving it 5 stars was too lenient of me. But I really connected with the story, so there it is.
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But I think that might be Alex’s boat. Can’t you just picture Callie watching Alex from the shadows? And in the following picture, is that the bench she sat on while waiting for him?

With characters that jump off the pages, the plot is not particularly the main focus in this book. In fact, I believe this to be a purely character-driven novel as most contemporaries are, and sometimes I don’t like that, but that was not the case here. I don’t think I have liked a YA contemporary this much since Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. 

Do me a favor and preorder this book. You won’t regret that decision.

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Is that the bakery where Callie picked up a Greek pastry and coffee and ended up meeting Kat for the first time? I totally think it could have been.

And I am SO HAPPY that I have a favorite author that writes about Florida with the passion that I share. So many people trash this state with no idea of the amazing things that are waiting for them if they step outside the big cities and touristy areas. Not that the big cities are bad, but there is so much to be seen in this state that you don’t get to see on TV and in the sensationalist media. They portray Florida like it’s all a bunch of weirdos, old people, and extremists. It’s not. This is my home and I am so glad there is an author writing about it in a positive way.


20 responses to “Book Review: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

  1. I felt the same way about this one, Kara. I felt so deeply for all the characters, especially because they were so flawed, and I the setting of this novel came to life for me. Plus, Alex totally ran away with my heart and I loved the realistic conclusion of his romance with Callie. Fantastic review, my friend!(:

  2. The photos really make this review pop! I love that you took the time to visit the location, and I definitely want to read this book now that I’ve read your review:)

  3. Amy

    I love how you added pics into your review. It’s so cool when a book is set close to home! This sounds like a really fantastic story too. I will be reading it soon and am now going to see these pictures in my head while I read. Thank you for making the visuals that much easier for me! 🙂

  4. Oh wow Kara what an awesome review! I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s great that you could really feel the story once you were there, that’s definitely a sign of some good writing. I know that I need to read this one, first of all it made you cry (I love crying!) and second of all I loved Something Like Normal!

  5. Wow, I love this post, Kara–for some reason I don’t think I’ve read the blurb for this book in some time, and it suddenly sounds like one I need to read! I love all the photos you posted, I’ll have to come back and visit this down the road when I’ve had a chance to read the book.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  6. This was a wonderful post, Kara. I could feel your love for this book bursting through the computer screen. And how amazing to be able to actually visit the setting you adored so much!

    I can’t wait to read this one. This has been receiving glowing reviews from every corner of the blogosphere. I’m so happy I requested it now.

  7. I LOVE the way you set up this review, Kara! So many places I visit on a regular basis… I love that you have the correct store in there (yup, that’s the one!) and that you have Hellas bakery in there and that you took a picture of that bench and the streets, and…

    It all just feels so… personal! Plus, it really adds to the emotional depth of the novel when you can see it yourself. (I live just down the road from Tarpon Springs and cannot believe you were literally five minutes from me one day!) 😉

    Next time you visit the area you need to walk up Hope street and check out the shrine mentioned in the book and then stroll down the cobble stone road where Callie’s house would have been located! 😉

    • You are so lucky to live so close to all that yummy food, Jenna! I went to Hella’s and I just loved it all so much. Best gyro I ever had.

      I thought about you as I drove past your town. 😉

      I wanted to do Hope Street but I had not written down directions for that, so boo. 🙁

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