About the Book

Title: Where the Stars Still Shine
Published: 2013
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Cover Story: You’re Kind of Good-Looking, I Guess
BFF Charm: Let Me Love You
Talky Talk: Poetically Beautiful
Bonus Factors: The School of Life, οικογένεια, Keith Mars Award for Awesome Dadhood
Anti-Bonus Factor: Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting (sort of)
Relationship Status: I Will Try to Fix You

Content Warning: This book deals with the aftermath of sexual assault.

Cover Story: You’re Kind of Good-Looking, I Guess

This is one of those books that’s difficult to convey in a single visual. So, uh, kudos for trying? It’s pretty enough, and it’s in my favourite colour. I personally don’t like flowery flourished fonts, although I understand the appeal. Putting all these things together, this becomes one of those instances where there’s practically an unofficial consensus on someone’s hotness, yet I feel like screaming, “I DON’T GET IT.” (I tried coming up with a more specific example, but apparently I think a lot of celebs are hot.)

The Deal:

Over the past twelve years, Callie has constantly been on the run with her mom. That means no home, no school, no friends — no sense of normalcy. And no respite from haunting memories of her childhood. But when her mom is arrested, Callie is finally reunited with her real father — who’s far from the villain she had always believed him to be. As Callie adjusts to life with her long-lost family, can she also find a way to leave her painful past behind? 

BFF Charm: Let Me Love You

BFF charm with teary eyes hugging a heart

Oh, Callie. To say that you’ve been through a lot is a severe understatement. You may not have a lot of possessions due to all the moving, but you sure have baggage. Extremely justified baggage. I know you think otherwise, but you are so, SO worthy of being loved, Callie. I just want to give you all the hugs. Or at least a hug machine, so I don’t creep you out with my stranger hugs. (On second thought, the hug machine would be much better than real ones.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

One person who Callie def. wouldn’t mind getting hugs from is Alex Kosta. (And they end up doing a looooot more than just hugging, too.) Alex is the hotness personified that works down at the docks — and totally off-limits. He’s also super understanding and respectful of Callie, which only adds more fuel to their sizzling chemistry. But I just can’t give this book a higher swoon score, because… well, trigger warning (NOT because of Alex, though).

Talky Talk: Poetically Beautiful

I’m not talking about REAL poetry (because omg no thanks), but Trish Doller has a gift for crafting gorgeous sentences. She also has a knack for pulverizing my heart into hamburger meat. And THE FEELS OMG THE FEELS. But they never come off as insincere or unearned. Just raw, devastating emotions.

Here’s Callie with a shout-out to me on her books: 

… my favorite novel in the world — a kids’ book called Mandy, about a little orphan girl who wants more than anything to have a home and a family. I’ve read it so many times the pages are falling out, but I can’t leave it behind. I can’t leave any of my books behind. They’re the only friends I’ve ever really had.

And ARGH, OK — there are a ton of other passages that I’d love to share, but it’s better that you discover them on your own. 

Bonus Factor: The School of Life

Callie has been self-taught ever since kindergarten. She’s studying to get her GED, but college isn’t necessarily the next step. Getting a post-secondary education is great, but it’s also not for everyone. And it’s nice to have reminders that a formal education isn’t required for being smart (or vice versa).

Bonus Factor: οικογένεια

A large group of people holding hands and standing on a beach at sunset, with their backs to the camera

When Callie goes to live with her dad in his hometown, she also gets reacquainted with all the Greek relatives on his side — most notably, her cousin Kat, who had been her childhood BFF, and her grandma Georgia, who is pretty kickass. And, of course, there is Greek FOOD. Which Callie doesn’t really care for (and to be honest, neither do I), but in my mind, IT ALL SOUNDS SO TASTY.

Bonus Factor: Keith Mars Award for Awesome Dadhood

Keith Mars hugging his daughter, Veronica Mars

OMG GREG! How do I love thee? He may not have had any practice being a father to a teenager, but he does it so well! He’s so loving and he never gives up on Callie, no matter how much she pushes him away. If he wasn’t already someone else’s husband (and, y’know, fictional), I would marry the shizz out of Greg. 

Anti-Bonus Factor: Dan Scott Award for Awful Parenting (sort of)

Evil Dan Scott from One Tree Hill

Yikes, OK. This is a tough one, since it’s unclear how much of the choices made by Callie’s mom Veronica could be attributed to actual shitty parenting. Though I’ll cut her some slack, since she had Callie when she was so young herself. I feel for Veronica — but at the same time, I still hold her responsible for her own actions, to some extent. 

Relationship Status: I Will Try to Fix You

OK, two Coldplay references may be too many for one book report (but another not-so-secret: I love Coldplay, so this is also a positive). And I don’t mean “fix” in the way that there’s something wrong with you, Book. But your story is heartbreaking and all I want is for you to heal and mend. I’d gladly join your support system on your way to doing so. 

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Bloomsbury. I received neither money nor Coldplay CDs for writing this review (dammit!). Where the Stars Still Shine will be available on September 24th.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.