Friday, February 14, 2014

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Callie has lived most of her life on the run.  Her mother ran away from Florida with her when she was kindergarten age so that her father wouldn't win custody.  Now she's 17 and life hasn't been easy.  She's never really been to school, she's left alone a lot while her mother works at bars and restaurants, she's never in one place long enough to make friends, and she's endured a trauma that no one knows about.  She's dealt as best she could through it all.  But during this latest move, her mother gets busted.... and Callie is sent back to Florida.  And back to a father and a family that she doesn't really remember.  

Trusting Greg (her dad), and making a life in this new place feels like betraying her mom... but this life offers her a stability, a love, friendship, and family in ways she never had all those years in hiding.

I wanted to read this book ever since I laid eyes on such a beautiful cover and title.  Then I read that it was about a girl who had grown up kidnapped by her mother and going home to a completely different life, and I knew it was a book I had to read.  Luckily my Broke and Bookish Secret Santa agreed and got me this!!

First off, I don't want to give off the impression that I didn't like this book.  I totally did.  I flew through it and wanted to keep reading it and reading it even after I knew I should be doing something else (like sleeping maybe???).  So yeah, it was super well written, addicting, and had a lot of interesting things in it (like Greek culture, scuba diving, family dynamics, etc.).

The thing about this book is that I just couldn't 100% give myself to it... if that makes any sense.  Like I kept thinking about stuff that was going on in the book and not really agreeing with it or understanding why the characters were the way they were.  They just didn't act the way I personally wanted them to... which shouldn't really be held against the book.  It's just a personal feeling.

Also this wasn't the most original book I'd ever read.  I felt like I've read books like this before and there were also some aspects that seem to be in a lot of YA books:  Of course the m/c, who went through some pretty heavy stuff, was amazingly, stunningly, beautiful.  And of course the love interest was the hottest guy on the planet AND described as a man-whore.  (On a side note- What is it with the new obsession in YA that all the desirable men be man-whores??  I didn't realize having sex with a bunch of people made someone sexier.  I personally don't think it is necessary to the story at all.)  And of course said man-whore guy (who weirdly is her step-uncle) morphs into the savior the instant he lays eyes on Callie.  It's just.... I'm sick of that same old stuff.  I want MORE.  Not everyone has to be so beautiful that all heads turn when they walk down the street.  Can they just be attractive to each other maybe?

Now we get to how I felt about Callie.  I felt like she was a pretty unlikable character, but that things were thrown in about her past that I could tell were supposed to make me like her despite all her unlikablility.  But I just didn't ever fully like her.  She has issues because of the past trauma that I mentioned, and it makes her do impulsive things with guys.  I feel bad that shit happened to her, but that does not make it okay for her to have sex with any guy that notices her existence.  And her lack of emotion about that sort of scared me.  I was also really frustrated that the love interest turned out to be one of these "hello-let's fuck" guys.  That is just not ever going to happen.  The other flaw about Callie was that she just kept making the same mistakes over and over and over again. She kept running away, lying about everything, she kept having sex with any guy who talked to her, she kept pushing everyone away.  And in the end it didn't really feel like she stopped doing any of those things because she learned something, it was more like it's just the way it turned out.

What I did love was the guy.  Alex was really sweet and even though I didn't believe in how their relationship developed... I still really liked him.  I just kind of wanted Kat (the clingy BFF) to get the guy.  I liked her too.  I also loved Greg and his overall saintly patience with Callie and the ending.  The ending was perfect for me.  I would have been so mad if everything tied up in a neat little bow at the end... and that SO didn't happen!!!  YAY!!

Ugh I don't know... I want to totally recommend this.  I want everyone to read it just so they can see the complexity of feelings it will leave you with.  I feel totally conflicted about everything in the book... and I kind of love that.

OVERALL: A book about a flawed girl who makes A LOT of mistakes while dealing with family turmoil and a past that is extremely traumatic.  I'm very conflicted about this book in that I loved reading it, but had complex feelings about how the characters acted.  Not the most original story, but it is well thought out.  I would definitely recommend it even though I had issues with Callie.

This Book Contains:

  • A huge Greek family and a lot insight into their culture and traditions
  • Tarpon Springs, Florida setting
  • Sponge diving
  • Boats
  • Snorkeling
  • Abuse issues
  • Family issues
  • A cool bookstore
  • An Airstream trailer

My Rating:


How I got this book: Thanks so much to Heather from The Turning Pages for the awesome Secret Santa present!!
Date Published: 10/24/2013


  1. I read this one last year and really enjoyed it. I totally agree that Callie made a ton of mistakes when it came to her family and I did get upset about a few things but overall I enjoyed it. Great review!

  2. Glad you were able to read it! I enjoyed this book a lot, but like you, there were some things that I felt conflicted about. Still, one of my favorite reads last year! :)

    1. I'm so happy I read it because I really did like it!! I just felt like sometimes I cared more that Callie did about stuff!! But it was a really good book and thank you again for getting it for me :)

  3. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this one! I loved it, and I loved seeing the family aspect and how Callie had to learn to trust people again!

    Great review!
    - Tabitha @ Tabitha's Book Blog

  4. THANK YOU! I'm so happy to find someone who feels almost the exact same way about this book that I did. When I first saw your review I was like oh no I have to read about another person who thinks this is completely and utterly brilliant, but then I didn't! I actually liked this, too, it's definitely compulsively readable, but yeah, I don't see what's so unique about it, it definitely falls prey to a lot of YA/NA tropes. I also wanted to like Callie, and it sounds like I liked her a little more than you, but yeah, I was so frustrated by so many of her decisions. I liked her dad a lot, too, and Alex, but the rest of her family drove me nuts. I hated how they didn't seem to understand her situation at all and kept pressuring her to do things.

    The ending bothered me. I agree that it's good it wasn't all wrapped up in a little bow, but I feel like 80-90% of the book was all about romance, romance, romance (or lust or whatever her relationship with Alex was), but then at the end it kind of disappeared and became solely about Callie finding herself.

    Anyway, long comment, but I love your review because you agree with me, haha.

  5. I actually didn't like the book, even though I wanted to, but I get your reaction to it. Where you like it...but there are personal reasons that you can't fault the book for. But I agree with you on all the negatives! It really was the same old, same old. Why does everyone have to be blindingly beautiful? Not everyone is like that! And a lot of the love interests are the man-whores or the "unattainable" guy that magically turns to be a superhero once the protagonist comes along. But I'm glad that you did whiz through it and like it! Lovely review as always :)

  6. A lot of people have been loving this book but the more reviews I read the more I know I'd HATE it. I can understand why you wouldn't like Callie, there has to be character growth. What's the point of a book where she's making the same mistakes at the end that she is at the beginning? The whole man whore, step uncle, her having sex with a bunch of guys is just ugh =P

  7. I loved this book so much. It's one of my favorite books of 2013. I even visited the city that it was set. I love all the flaws of every character in the book. I just want to hug each character because I feel like they need a good hug and I want to hug Trish Dollar because she's amazing. WTSSS is my favorite Trish Doller book. Seriously. I understand why you don't like Callie that much, but I felt differently. She made so much sense to me. I love your review though, seeing where are thoughts aligned and where they didn't :)

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books