SYNOPSIS AND SPOILER-FREE REVIEW:
After her soldier brother is horribly wounded in Afghanistan, Gabriela must honor the vow she made: If anything ever happened to him, she would walk the Camino de Santiago through Spain, making a pilgrimage in his name. The worst part is that the promise stipulates that she must travel with her brother's best friend--a boy she has despised all her life. Her brother is in a coma, and Gabi feels that she has no time to waste, but she is unsure. Will she hesitate too long, or risk her own happiness to keep a promise? An up-close look at the lives of the children of military families, Beneath Wandering Stars takes readers on a journey of love, danger, laughter, and friendship, against all odds.
In this novel we follow Gabi, a military brat whose life has just suffered a dramatic twist after devastating news of his soldier brother being badly injured at war. As a result, she leaves to Spain and walks the Camino of Santiago. Unfortunately for her, she is stuck with his brother's best friend, also a solider, whom she blames for the accident. But the Camino is long, and you are forced into thinking and talking to some other people, so things may be about to change for our main character. Great plotline, right?
I went into this book with no expectations at all, and for that I am thankful. I do not think this novel is what I would have expected had I known what it was about from the beginning. Truth is, though I liked the characters and plotline, I did not fully connect to it, and got slightly bored and distracted at some points. I think what did not really click for me was the amount of description of not just the setting but spirituality too.
However, I definitely see the potential in this story, and I would recommend it for people who like spirituality, as it is something continuously discussed throughout the book. Also, for those of you interested in the Camino of Santiago, and even historical facts about Spain, as well as gastronomy.
Enough of what I did not feel comfortable with. Let's go into the good, really good, aspects of the novel. First of all, Gabi's development was quite good, and I could believe how she felt about her family and being a military brat. For that, I think we should thank Ashlee, as she is one herself, and knew how to write it down in a believable, real and pure way. I liked seeing Gabi grow out of her shell.
Seth, on the other hand, did not had a quite good development. I think he had an amazing one. There may have been some points where I could not fully believe him and his actions, but for the most part he was well built and filled with human sense. Especially at the ending, I saw how strong of a character he is and how different and brave it was for the author to make him that way. However, I must admit, his toughness and individualism was very nerve-wrecking, because it didn't allow the romance to grow between the two main characters. Now, I am mad at that because I really liked the couple they made, but I actually think it was wonderfully done, and otherwise it would have felt too fake and forced. So, well done at leaving the reader wanting for more romance. A spin-off would be nice.
In conclusion, Beneath Wandering Stars is the story where the military world crashes with the spiritual one. Tragedy strikes and then adventure takes over. Written for those who love learning about new places in the world.
*Thanks, Merit Press, for sending me a review copy of this novel.