Book Nook: 'Where the Stars Still Shine' tells story of girl's growing pains

Kathleen Duncan

March 26, 2014 at 4:02 p.m.
Updated March 25, 2014 at 10:26 p.m.

   Blaine Hefner for The Victoria Advocate

I was wearing a fur-lined jacket, shivering in an Indiana airport, watching the snow fall - and keep falling - for hours.

My flight had been canceled because of weather in Dallas, and though I had hope that my next flight would stay on schedule, the snow-coated planes and roads hinted at other endings to my day.

So as I perused the books awaiting my attention, "Where the Stars Still Shine," set in sunny Florida by Trish Doller, seemed like the perfect escape.

Though at times quite serious, it is an absorbing and pleasurable coming-of-age story about a young girl starting over.

Callie was kidnapped by her mother when she was just a child. They spend years on the run until they are pulled over for a broken taillight, and that's all it takes. Callie's mom is arrested, and the father she barely remembers, Greg, swoops in to take his daughter back home.

After years of surviving on vending machine food, never attending school and dodging the seedy men her mother brought into their hotel rooms and broken-down apartments, Callie finds a warm, loving home unfamiliar.

Greg is remarried to a lovely woman and has two sons - adorable little boys who take to Callie right away.

With time and a lot of patience from her new family, Callie begins to think she could learn to fit into this small-town, ordinary life.

She falls for a boy who teaches her to snorkel, is reunited with her old friend, Kat, and gets a job at a local tourist shop. She babysits, she goes on dates, and she studies for her GED. She starts to relax and believe she can be normal.

Then her mother returns.

After being released on bail and a promise to show up to her court date, Callie's mom reappears. Angry and destructive, she flits in and out of Callie's new existence causing havoc.

Her mother steals from her, berates her and demands she run away with her. She continues her usual pattern of getting drunk, hooking up and living in abandoned hovels. Though Callie loves her mother, she is unsure if she can go back to being a part of that kind of life.

After experiencing support and stability, Callie begins to think that maybe she deserves better after all.

An enjoyable, though at times painful, coming-of-age novel, "Where the Stars Still Shine" is engrossing and satisfying. Callie is a character with a good heart. Despite years of emotional and physical damage, she overcomes a lot and faces her fears.

As we follow Callie's struggle to figure out what she truly needs, it all comes down to a choice between the lives offered by her two parents.

A life on the run with the mother whom she has spent every day with since she was a toddler or a life she is just beginning to feel comfortable in.

Though this choice may seem simple, love does blind. And we can only hope that Callie learns to stand up for what is best for herself before it is too late.



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