Queens of All The Earth by Hannah Sternberg caught my attention because it included traveling to Spain, and I love travel. I have my own fond memories of a quick extended spring break trip back when I was a sophomore in college, so I looked forward to see what would unfold in the book.
18-year old Olivia was supposed to be at her freshman year of college, but a break-down on moving day morning led her mom to call and request a deferral, another aspect that intrigued me from the description. When she still doesn't seem quite like herself around the time of Thanksgiving, her sister decides that a sister trip to Spain might be just what she needs, and the adventure began. They even stayed in a hostel, meeting a lot of different people, which reminded me of our lodging while backpacking.
Once I started the book, it was a little bit slow getting acquainted with the book and the characters. I was trying to understand Olivia and to figure out just what was going on to push her toward her emotional break-down. While I was still trying to work out some of these pieces, some strange occurrences started to happen, making me wonder if they were signs of the state of her mental health or if there was a layer of fantasy in the book even though I thought it was realistic fiction.
I even checked the book description again to see if I had missed something. It turns out that it never really fully emerged into fantasy, but there were some seemingly magical elements at different points, making me think that it had a feel of magic realism. I started to appreciate the occurrences for what they were, rather than trying to analyze what was really going on all the time and just enjoy the story.
Before that point, in my new-found haste to not have as much patience with books that I don't absolutely love, I almost abandoned it. I wasn't sure that I was invested enough to continue trying to figure it out. Yet, I kept clicking away on my Kindle thinking, but I love travel, I love books about self-discovery, I the possibility of romance, and don't I want to see what happens to this cast of characters that is growing on me more all the time?
Despite taking me a while to truly appreciate it, this wasn't a book that I stretched out over days trying to decide whether to stick with it. I finished it up in a couple of days, and when I reached the end, I was glad I read it, reminding me that sometimes books that don't instantly grab me in every way are still worth it.
This is one of those books that shows a lot of glimpses into characters and who they are but also leaves a lot of questions for the readers to consider, opening up various possibilities of what might happen in their futures. I would love to read more about multiple characters in the book. I also think that it is probably the type of book that has multiple layers that I would appreciate it more as time goes on. Some day I might even read it again to notice what I missed the first time round when I was too fixated on trying to figure out whether or not it was fantasy.
While reading I was trying to think about which age range would enjoy this book most. I am not sure that I would have really gotten into it in earlier high school. I am thinking that around my senior year or college is probably when I would have started to appreciate it more.
*Net Galley Digital Copy Provided & 15/12 Debut Author Challenge