by Trish Doller. Available September 2013
I picked up this book feeling wary, because I previously read Room by Emma Donoghue. I found Room to be a masterful, realistic, and respectful way of portraying a kidnapping from the victim's perspective. After reading that book, I didn't know if Where the Stars Still Shine would rise to the challenge and give a unique look at a kidnapping case or if it would disappoint me. More on this later.
When Callie was just in kindergarten, she was kidnapped by her loving yet domineering and slightly off-kilter mother. She's now 17, reunited with the father who she barely remembers, and must transition to her new family and life. She learns independence, new responsibilities, learns to make decisions for herself, and faces the issues from her past. She especially learns what a respectful, loving relationship is all about... By getting hooked up with a boyfriend and having lots and lots of sex.
That's right, this galley focused a lot more on romance than psychological trauma from kidnapping. I'd have to say that I'm disappointed overall. I was ready to read a book about a slow transformation into modern life, but really I read about a girl who gets nervous around her mom and gets hot and steamy with a hot greek guy rumored to be a bad boy. (I guess I should have picked up on that foot-flipping-I'm-kissing-someone-right-now-action on the front cover).
Much of the story is about meandering dates. It's not wrong to have a couple chic-lit books out there with the focus on kissing and sex (oh, lots and lots of sex), but I think here the romance overrides the kidnapping part of the story. To prove my point, Callie didn't have any issues transitioning into the life of a regular teenager. The story glazes over how she studies for her GED and didn't even tell me if she passes. She recognizes an astounding amount of pop culture from movies to music, and she has no problems making friends (or boyfriends for that matter), getting a job, or meeting family. Generally, all the fitting in she has to do (which isn't much) is solved pretty quickly.
To be honest, I am totally sick of any romance whatsoever. Unless it's great and necessary, I don't want to read it. Scoring a boyfriend or girlfriend by the end of a novel doesn't always enrich it. It's now, in my eyes, a cliche.
If you like chic lit, romance, or summer escapades, you'll like this book. For you people, this book is a solid 3. However, my patience for romance had been reduced. It was merely okay; closer to a 2. It was like eating a store-made cake. Is the frosting made with real buttercream frosting, or is it the stuff from a can? It turned out to canned, but at least the cake wasn't stale.