Monday, February 05, 2018

Where the Stars Still Shine, by Trish Doller

Life for Callie always meant just her and her mother, on the run since Mom abducted her during a nasty custody battle.  But when Callie's mother is apprehended, Callie finds herself returned to her father and his family.  There contrasts are striking: a home, solid family life, and a chance to build a stable life. There's no denying that life is better with her Dad, but it's hard to enjoy it when Callie feels like she is being forced to reject her mother in the process.

The stability is alien to her.  Things like making friends, falling in love, and getting a job are unfamiliar.  Callie's father's large Greek family would be challenging for anyone, but is particularly smothering compared to the independence that Callie is accustomed with.  Still, it all has some appeal (and the presence of young smoldering Alex in particular!).

A breezy, but ultimately fulfilling read,  Callie is smart and caring.  She makes plenty of mistakes, but owns them and tries to make her life (and the lives of others) better.  Overall, the characters' struggles sounded real and behaved in believable fashion.  The potential pitfall of introducing a Big Greek Family is handled well, deftly avoiding the usual stereotypes.  The romance is hot and the ending a real tearjerker, so all the right notes are hit.

The novel doesn't break any major new ground -- children coming to terms with their parents' failures is a pretty common YA theme -- but it is well written and enjoyable to read.

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