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.
Ashlee Cowles grew up an Army "brat" and subsequently worked with a nonprofit that supports teens in military families. She holds graduate degrees from Duke University and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and teaches literature and philosophy. As a student, Ashlee studied abroad in Spain and walked part of the Camino de Santiago.
"This is a believable and well-written tale full of references to Homer and Chaucer.... The wide range of characters...are authentic rather than idealized. Readers will feel Gabi's pain--both emotional and physical--as she endures a host of adverse conditions along the route. A realistic fiction title that will appeal to a broad audience of teen readers." --School Library Journal
"Cowles, a former Army brat, shows an intimate understanding of military life and uses her characters to examine its difficulties...the toll combat takes on soldiers, and other complicated topics.... Teens for whom war hits close to home are a natural audience for this hopeful story of journeys internal and external." --Publishers Weekly
"After her older brother, Lucas, is wounded in action...17-year-old Gabriela Santiago decides to honor a promise to her brother by walking the Camino de Santiago.... Gabi's convincing teen voice guides readers through the complexity of emotions and inner struggle. Debut novelist Cowles uses the pilgrimage to spark moments of philosophic and theological reflection. The story will open a portal to families with injured soldiers and propel conversations about war, identity, philosophy, and hardship." --Kirkus Reviews
"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. Readers who give it a try will be happy they did." --VOYA Magazine
"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." --VOYA Magazine, Teen reviewer
"Ashlee Cowles brings her own life experience as an 'army brat' to this beautiful, hopeful story. Beneath Wandering Stars reflects on identity, family, love, and belief systems as the characters do as well." --Bustle
"A moving tale of self discovery, forgiveness, and relationship in the great tradition of quest novels. This is only the second time I have really read a book that addressed the life of being a military kid in such authentic ways. This book was, for me, both a mirror and a window. This book further solidified for me a deeper understanding of the call for more diversity and inclusion in YA literature." – Teen Librarian Toolbox/School Library Journal
"There's a emotional depth to this book that is unparalleled, writing that is too brilliant for words.... This is one of the stories that stays with you, making you see things in a different light, and that makes it a book that is truly worth reading." --YA Books Central