5 STARS! Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller stole my attention from the start with a character so full of flaws and beauty I just had to spend more time with her. Callie sees her world through a veil of jaded innocence. On one end, she's experienced terrible trauma due to a transient life with her mother, leaving her outlook on life a kind of loveless jagged knife. On the other end, she remains a loyal daughter to the one person in her life who should have kept her safe. And you glean all this in the first couple pages. I read this book at breakneck speed because after a tangle with the cops, Callie is rescued from her kidnapping mother and returned to her loving father. Now that she's living the life she always should have had, can she learn how to really live?
I loved traipsing through Callie's gritty world of pain and hope. She never had hope before, but slowly glimmers of possibility are revealed to her and her first reaction is always so pure, but it's her second and third reactions that get her into trouble. She's part exhilaration, part terror. She's lived eons in her seventeen years, and yet sometimes she's such a child. The family her mother forced her to leave behind is plain awesome. The town she returns to is plain cool. I want to go there, be adopted (sorry mom), and find myself a hot diver. Doesn't have to be Alex. Just because he's so beautiful, women of all walks of life stop and drool, so what, right?
If you're looking for an emotional YA contemporary with an edge to it, give Where the Stars Still Shine a try. I have to push Doller's other book too because I still think about Something Like Normal. Both books have flawed characters that draw you in. They both pull at your heartstrings and show regular folk in hard situations. They're both sexy and raw. I only wish Doller already had a long list of books waiting for me to fall in love with because I'm sure I would.