Sunday, January 26, 2014

What we're reading: Contemporary realism

I just finished Where the Stars Still Shine, by Trish Doller. Since I missed her debut novel, I didn't have any expectations at all for this one, which I picked up at random (I liked the title) from the teen "new books" shelves. Judging by the reviews on Goodreads, people who really loved her first book didn't care for this one as much, but some people who read this one first didn't like the first one when they then backtracked to read it, so I'm guessing they are really different. Based on this one, I would probably try reading her other one just to see.

This is the story of Callie, whose young mother decided to run away from her marriage when Callie was four, and took her along. From that moment, Callie's life was a perilous existence, moving from town to town as her mother moved from job to job, from man to man, from daydream to daydream, as she ran from real and imagined threats, dragging Callie along. Her mother's love for her was fierce in just one way--she saw the two of them as a unit, never to be separated--but otherwise her disregard was devastating to Callie's upbringing. When her mother is finally arrested and Callie is sent back to her father, her story begins.

I liked this quite a bit. The attention to the detail in an individual's life, and the general story arc reminded me quite a bit of Sarah Dessen's or Deb Caletti's stories…but this book is much edgier, and there's quite a bit of explicit detail about sex, so this is for upper-grade high school and above in age. It also reminded me a bit of Holly Goldberg Sloan's book, I'll Be There, because of the similar circumstances of a parent who lives his or her life with almost total disregard for the well-being of the children.

I thought Doller accurately portrayed the reintegration of a stolen child back into the life she was supposed to have, and the unforeseen difficulties that would be encountered, both by her and by the happy but bewildered family around her. The love story was sweet and passionate both (hot boyfriend alert), and it was lovely to see this girl whose every experience of attention from the opposite sex had been negative and exploitative learn that things could be different. I also liked the way Doller wrote the mother with her psychological problems and the father who never wavered in hoping to get his girl back and, now that he has and she's a bit different than he imagined, doesn't hesitate to embrace her wholeheartedly anyway.

I'd give it at least a 4 out of 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment