Where The Stars Still Shine

First Lines: Yellow light slashes the darkness as Mom sneaks into the apartment again.  The muffled creak of the floorboards beneath the shabby carpet gives her away, along with the stale-beer-and-cigarette smell that always follows her home from the Old Dutch.

I added this to my to-read list a while ago because of the beautiful cover and the description.  (But seriously, where can I get that dress, even though it’s fuzzy and indistinct?)

Callie has never known what a normal life is.  She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and she mostly gets her meals from vending machines.  She has dreams at night of things she’d like to forget.  For ten years, this has been Callie’s life with her mom.  But when Callie’s mom is arrested for kidnapping Callie, her dad whisks her away to a small town in Florida and a house that should have been her home for years.  Callie soon learns that it’s not as easy as simply living in a house.  She has to learn what it means to be part of a family.  She has to learn what it means to love someone, even someone unlikely, and how to believe that love can mean good things.

I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did.  I mean, I like contemporary stuff, but after I got reading this, I realized it was heavier than I thought it would be.  I like problem novels and all, but Callie is seriously messed up.  And someone I really really came to care about her.

And I do not blame Callie for being messed up.  All she can remember are nights in dingy motel rooms, cigarette smoke, her mother’s constant “dates” with less than appealing men, and leaving town the moment she starts to like it there.  That will certainly affect even the best of us.

I don’t want to tell you what exactly Callie’s issues are because I liked discovering them on my own. I liked stumbling upon them in the story, as though Callie was slowly telling us her secrets.  Some of her issues are emotional as she tries to be “normal”, some are social norms she never learned, and some are just about trying to fit in with a family.  It was sweet that she struggled with these things, even though there were a few times I just wanted to sit her down and have a talk with her about her choices.  (That’s the teacher in me coming out.)

I really liked the supporting characters in the story too.  Her dad, Phoebe, Kat, Alex, Joe, Tucker.  They were all so understanding of Callie’s situation.  But they were also human.  They grew frustrated with her and they made mistakes dealing with her.  They said the wrong things.  And it was all so very touching.

The writing is so smooth that I often found myself curled up with this wanting to read just one more chapter.  (Which is the biggest lie a reader tells himself/herself.)

I will just add that this book is not for younger YA readers.  Seriously.  Not only is there a decent amount of language, there are also…shall we call them physical encounters.  It even managed to shock me at times just because I wasn’t expecting it to be so present in a YA novel.  But there was something about it that just felt so…I know how awful this is going to sound, but it felt so like Callie.  I guess you might understand that better after you read it.  Callie is like that friend of yours who gets a crazy tattoo or does stupid stunts all the time and you just roll your eyes and smile because at this point, that’s just who they are.  …I’m making this worse, aren’t I?  I’m going to stop now.

Suffice it to say, this was a wonderfully emotional book with a great cast of characters.  I was truly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

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