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Cowles, Ashlee. Beneath Wandering Stars.

5Q * 3P * J * S (a)

Cowles, Ashlee. Beneath Wandering Stars. Merit Press, 2016. 272p. $17.99. 978-1-44059582-0.

Gabriela Santiago has been a military brat her whole life, never setting down roots in one place. She looks forward to college so she can leave the Army post in Germany where her father is stationed and attend the University of Texas in the fall with her boyfriend. Her priorities change when her soldier brother, Lucas, is injured in Afghanistan and remains in a coma. His best friend Seth, who has always irritated Gabi, brings a message from Lucas to the family: take the pilgrimage of their namesake, El Camino de Santiago, through northern Spain on his behalf. Gabi is ready to do anything for her brother, and when Seth volunteers to accompany her, she reluctantly agrees to spend the next few weeks with him at her side. If nothing else, she hopes he will tell her exactly how Lucas got injured. As they meet other pilgrims along the way, Gabi learns something else: Seth is on this journey as much for Lucas as for himself. The two grow closer, and Gabi hopes for peace and recovery for both her brother and his friend.

Fortunately, this novel does not preach about war, religion, and PTSD. Instead, it introduces a narrator who is open-minded to her own life circumstances as well as those around her. The fleshed-out characters, and literal and emotional journeys of Gabi and Seth, make this a novel that readers will feel they can step right into. From the details, it is clear that the author has walked El Camino and included the experiences that serve the story in a meaningful way. This book may not fly off the shelves despite its worthiness, but readers who give it a try will be happy they did.--Deena Viviani.

When military brat Gabriela Santiago learns that her brother is in a coma and may never wake up, she is more than eager to complete his dying wish. That is until she discovers she will have to walk five hundred miles with Lucas's annoying friend, Seth.

Beneath Wandering Stars is about searching, healing, and hoping. Filled with mellifluous language and a powerful message, this beautiful story will appeal to fans of realistic fiction. 5Q, 5P. --Maia Raynor, Teen Reviewer.

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Author:Wenk, Debbie
Publication:Voice of Youth Advocates
Article Type:Book review
Date:Aug 1, 2016
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