Friday, September 20, 2013

My Big Fat Greek Reunion

"I can’t leave my books behind. 
They’re the only friends I’ve ever really had."
--Trish Doller, Where the Stars Still Shine

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsburty USA Children's, 352 pages
Publication Date: September 24th, 2013
Source: eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley
Other Books By This Author: Something Like Normal 

Goodreads Description

Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

My Thoughts

I was thinking this while reading Something Like Normal but after Where the Stars Still Shine, Trish Doller is officially on my author auto-buy list. For serious. I had high expectations going into this book after LOVING SLN and, to be honest, when my expectations are high disastrous results usually occur. Not so much this time. I LOVED this book. It was a total binge read. I wanted to cancel my dinner plans to keep reading! No joke! But my friends think I’m anti-social enough as it is so I couldn’t break plans…this time…

WTSSS is a novel about Callie, kidnapped by her own mother and on the run for the past 12 years. This poor girl hasn’t had a break since she left. My heart was aching for her pretty quickly. I am also very biased and have a soft spot for female characters who love books as much as I do. Callie and I were off to a good start. More than that though, her vulnerability was what sold me. We have a girl so fiercely independent yet so emotionally naked to the world. This girl wants to love and be loved in return. My heart broke for her. She is a character I was just rooting for the whole book and I just wanted so badly for her to be okay. Her growth throughout her entire ordeal is lined with blood, sweat, and tears and was anything but easy. I loved her all the more for it. She worked for every step of progress and by the end…well, you’ll just have to read and see.  

Kat, cousin and self-appointed best friend, is another favorite of mine. One of those people who loves to love people. She takes resistant Callie under her wing and pretty much forces friendship on her. Loved this. I love characters whose outlook, though naïve, is so bright that they just light up the room. Kat is one of those characters. I love that she pushes Callie to break out of her shell and come to whatever sense of normalcy she can tolerate. Does she push too far sometimes? Definitely. But it only makes her character that much more endearing.

The Greek family theme? Ah-freaking-mazing. My family is Sicilian (an off-shoot of Italian but much more crazy and rage-driven) and Greeks are so similar in family style to Sicilians and Italians. I was sitting here reading and not only laughing at most of the family dynamics but nodding my head along in agreement. The grandmother is not a character to be trifled with and I just adore her.

The romance is another aspect that I really enjoyed. Alex is definitely a swoony character and I loved how Callie interacted with him. I mean, she comes on a little strong, but hey, it’s all she knows. The fact that Alex doesn’t judge her for that and seems to see something else in her was beautiful. I loved that they were there for one another for the ugly things in their lives. I really liked the development of their relationship because It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t perfect, but it was real. Real life is messy and I love that Trish’s writing and plot outline doesn’t wrap everything up neatly. It gives you a resolution but leaves the window open for growth and hope. Just like real life.

The writing of this story is on par with SLN. Trish has an amazing ability to get you to feel for her characters. The situations that Callie has suffered through are horrible and something a child should never have to go through. With that said, I think writing about victims of abuse has to be one of the hardest things ever. Trish does this beautifully. I felt Callie’s reactions to situations to be honest and believable. I feel like her growth from the time with her mother to the time with her father were raw yet not overreactions. The relationship she has with her mother was one of the hardest things to read about. You want to shake Callie and make her wake up and see her mother for who she is...but at the same time you can't. You can't because this is her battle, her war, her mom. For those of us lucky to have a fantastic relationship with our mothers, it was extremely hard for me to wrap my head around this dynamic. I'm not naive. I know this type of horrible situation exists and it makes my heart break to read about people living through this. I think it showed even further how strong Callie is, how deep her love for her family goes, and how much perseverance she has to protect those she cares about.

This book is fantastic and is such an amazing story about family, love, and the ability to learn to love yourself.

Should You Read This Book? YES! Fans of contemporary, books dealing with abuse, books about self-discovery and growth, fans of Trish Doller. 


  1. I definitely want to read this one. Everyone in the blogosphere has been raving so much! I'm listening to Cassie and Betty's podcast right now where they interview Trish Doller. I will definitely need to move this one up on my TBR list.

    Rebecca @ The Library Canary

  2. I'm glad tomorrow is tomorrow and this book comes out because OTHERWISE I'd be super jealous of the fact that you've already read this. As it is, I'll just be glad you loved it and get excited to discover it for myself! Yay big families tho - really looking forward to this aspect of the book!

  3. I'm about writing my review of WTSSS now. I will come back and read your review when I'm finished...I'm anxious to see what you thought about it :)

  4. Also, I promise I can speak English. That first sentence didn't make a lot of sense! haha

  5. Uhm, yes, yes, and yes. That's pretty much all I have to say about this review. I feel the same way! I loved the messiness, the realness, all the lovely things. Love this book!


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