Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Last summer, I read and reviewed Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles. A YA novel, it was the story of Gabi, a military brat stationed with her family in Germany. Her brother had followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the military, but was wounded in Afghanistan. Gabi and Seth, her brother’s best friend walk the Camino de Santiago, to fulfill a promise to her brother. I loved that book. This is the follow up.
Nineteen-year-old war veteran Lucas Santiago is grappling with the knowledge that he’ll never walk again when he learns his best friend, Seth, hasn’t returned from his solo trek through Scotland. If Seth doesn’t report back soon, he’s risking an AWOL charge that could end his military career.
Lucas has no desire to leave the house, let alone brave a foreign country in a wheelchair, following bizarre clues Seth left behind. But Lucas’s sister, Gabi—who has feelings for Seth—won’t take no for an answer. The one thing Lucas never expects when he agrees to Gabi’s harebrained scheme is meeting Skye, a young British veteran with a traumatic past of her own. Skye also has unwavering confidence and a thirst for adventure—qualities Lucas sorely lacks as he struggles to adjust to his new life.
The trio sets off on a road trip to search for Seth in the Scottish Highlands, where it becomes clear to Lucas that if he ever hopes to win the heart of an irresistible force like Skye, he’ll need to resurrect the fearless fighter he used to be. He’s falling hard for Skye, but can he again fall in love with life?
While the first book was told my Gabi’s point of view, Below Northern Lights is told from her brother, Lucas’s, point of view. As a result of his being wounded in Afghanistan, he is paralyzed from the waist down. With the help of his service dog Homer, he is making it through the day to day. Then they get a call from Seth’s dad, saying he is supposed to report back to his unit soon or he’ll be AWOL. After a lot of convincing, he and Gabi head to Scotland to find him. What they encounter is scavenger hunt for Seth. They enlist the help of Skye, a Scottish veteran who lost a leg in Afghanistan.
Lucas and Skye both obviously have their demons. Gabi just wants to find Seth. They have success and they have failures. I have been looking forward to reading this and it did not disappoint. The author is a military brat and is familiar with the lifestyle. She writes about the military in a realistic manner that is easy to understand. For those familiar with the life, she throws in fun mentions, like Anthony’s Pizza at the PX food court. Not everyone will smile when reading that.
This can be read on it’s own, but it does discuss Gabi and Seth, so if you want their story, read Beneath Wandering Stars too.