I received this book for free from Merit Press, Simon Pulse in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

{Beneath Wandering Stars: Ashlee Cowles}Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles
Published by Merit Press, Simon Pulse on August 1, 2016
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Merit Press, Simon Pulse
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{Synopsis} – 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.

{My thoughts} – Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it.” – Ashlee Cowles

War. It’s the one thing in this world that I have problems accepting. In this book Gabi and Seth are trying to find ways in which they can accept the war that has caused her brother and his best friend to be terribly injured.

Lucas, Gabi’s brother was injured horribly while on patrol. Lucas had written a letter that told his family that he wanted them to take a pilgrimage walk if he didn’t make it back from the war. The Pilgrimage was called Camino de Santiago and was located in Spain.

Her father agreed to go but then canceled the trip. She decides to go anyways alone with Seth. They embark on a journey of self discovery and healing among other things.

I think that this is a well written book. It does appear to be a slow read for the first fifteen or so chapters, but it does pick up and pull the reader into the story. I think that it is full of good advice and gives the reader an understanding of just how serious times in war can be.

Anyone that has a loved one raking part in the military will probably enjoy this book. I recommend it for those that feel lost and just want to find themselves in the pages of a book that can transport them to another place and another time.

{Quotes I Enjoyed} –
{01} – Now I love books they’re the most portable friends a military brat can have, but this isn’t any book. Lucas and I use to listen to the audio version of the children’s Odyssey during long drives and cross-country moves.
{02} – That’s because the worst tragedies are the one’s you anticipate in advance. When fate is out for blood, she’ll cure you to the bone and you’ll know she’s coming – the same way you know you’ve nicked your finger while cutting vegetables, because you can feel the sharp sting long before red starts welling up in the clean white slice.
{03} – All I can focus on is the raspberry burn above my right shin guard. The rest of my body is numb, but the raw, stinging flesh assures me this is real, no matter how fake my surroundings now seem.
{04} – “Time has become a marked down commodity on clearance.”
{05} – “Classic old school is the most radical thing a person can be these days, Gabs. Want to be original? Then stand for something time has proven to be solid.” – Lucas
{06} – “Funny you should think so highly of people at all,” I interrupt. “We’ve been killing each other since the dawn of time.Over race, religion, whatever. Humans have never needed much of an excuse. That’s what never changes.”
{07} – What we were afraid of was war, because a war would change our family, change our world. Change everything.
{08} – “Heroes always have to leave the ones they love,” he said. “That’s what a hero is.”
{09} – Talking is good. Talking means I don’t have to think, which means I don’t have to deal with the knot at the bottom of my stomach, a knot that increases in size and degree of entanglement each day.
{10} – Jens gives me a wink that makes my stomach flop. “Ah, but there are no coincidences on the camino. There are only circles of destiny that occasionally overlap.”
{11} – “Prayers are like good manners, Gabriela,” mom announced in her classic army wife style. “There are really only two you need to remember: Please and thank you.”
{12} – I don’t want to play the sole representative of the United States, as if I’m qualified to speak on behalf of my government. My father is still my father, and my country is still my country. Maybe our tribal loyalties are the reason we humans will always be at war, but I don’t know how to love some vague nation of all humanity. We reserve the ferocity of love for the people and places we have ties to. To the things we know because we live and breathe in them and recognize their scent.
{13} – “Unruly children want someone to be hard on them. There is freedom in self-discipline, for those ruled by their desires soon become a slave to them.”
{14} – “True spirituality is rarely about warm feelings of fulfillment. It’s often about duty and obedience and sacrifice.”
{15} – “Mother Theresa spoke of this pain, the knife of compassion, as one of life’s greatest paradoxes.”

Final Conclusion: 5 Star Rating.