- Release Date: September 24th 2013
- Pages: 352
- Genre: Contemporary/ Social Issues
- Publisher: Bloomsbury
Synopsis: 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.
Kidnapped by her mother as a child, 17-year-old Callie has spent her entire life on the run. When her mother is finally arrested, Callie is returned to a father she never knew in the close-knit Greek-American tourist town of Tarpon Hills, Florida. But for a girl who spent most of her life on her own joining this loving Greek family is more of a struggle than a happy reunion.
Throughout the novel Callie struggles with trying to cope with the new happy life that has been handed to her, while the absence of her mother is always somewhere in the back of her mind. During this transition, she is also haunted by an abusive past that still seems to have control over her life. Watching Callie deal with having been abused as a child was really jarring and at times very hard for me to even read.
Callie does garner a somewhat love interest in “steal your breath beautiful” 22-year-old sponge harvester, Alex Kosta. I find their relationship interesting because they have this insta-lust, mostly physical relationship that I associate more with New Adult than YA. I’m wondering if this is maybe a turn towards more mature YA or if this book could even be considered NA ? Alex as a character does have his own issues, but the book never delves into them deep enough to be fully formed and their relationship felt fleeting.
I’m a little disappointed in this book, because despite the overwhelmingly positive reviews on Goodreads, this book didn’t quite work for me. We only scratch the surface of what is going on in this town and in the novel because it shifts focuses on so many plot elements and never settles. I didn’t get a true sense of any of the characters or the plots to get invested. Maybe it’s because I felt like I’ve read the “girl close to 18 leaving her damaged mother to see the father she doesn’t know” in books like Along for The Ride by Sarah Dessen or Fingerprints of You by K.P Madonia.
While the character and story development can be a bit spotty, Where The Stars Still Shine ultimately tells a story that is both heartbreaking and hopeful about a girl who discovers a family and a love she never expected.
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.