Audiobook Junkie, Sporadic book blogger, occasional master chef, soccer mom, wearer of pajamas, teller of tales, cool aunt, beloved wife, and loyal friend.
Where the Stars Still Shine was a quietly powerful book that is impossible to put down once you begin. I found myself up into the wee hours of the morning even though I had to work in just a few short hours but I simply had to finish the book. I tried putting it down a few times but couldn't get the story out of my head so had to return to it. I was able to relate to and connect with Callie in such a way that I was lost in her story. My heart ached for her lonely life with a mentally unstable mother putting her in unsafe situations, never knowing any stability, never staying in one place long enough to put down roots or even make a friend. As angry as I was at a mother who could put her child through this, I also understood Callie's unwavering loyalty to her mother despite her own frustration with her choices.
"How could my mom be so selfish? Taking the pills would have kept us here. Taking the pills would have kept her from hooking up with Frank. All she had to do was take the goddamn pills and her life, my life, would have been ordinary. Happy."
While the story itself was heartbreaking, it was the authenticity of the characters that made it so deeply moving. I could completely understand how such a transient upbringing could cause Callie to have difficulty making connections and picking up on social cues. The awkward way she interacted with her newfound family and peers felt genuine and I could completely understand how out of place and uncomfortable she felt around these people that she had so little in common with. I can't begin to imagine how overwhelming it would be for a teenager in her situation but I definitely felt it along with her in the story.
I'm usually pretty skeptical about most romance but I really enjoyed the dynamic between Callie and Alex, both feeling so out of place for their own reasons and finding a kind of solace in each other. I liked Alex but he was definitely more of a background character. If there is anything that could have been improved in this book, it is that the secondary characters could have had more depth.
Where the Stars Still Shine is a beautifully written story that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys reading an emotional contemporary story with realistically damaged characters and uncomfortable subject matter. This is one of my favorite reads of 2013 and I look forward to discovering more from this author. I think that she captures her character's thoughts and feelings perceptively and handles difficult topics head on without exaggerating or minimizing it.