The Gathering by Beth Burgmeyer

Ever since her mom married Cal, 20-year-old Summer Blackburn has just wanted to escape from her miserable life in small-town Montana. With her mom severely depressed and unable to even leave her bed, Summer is forced to take care of the house and watch over her younger siblings. On top of that, Cal is not only abusive, he also happens to be county sheriff. Summer knows if she ever wants to have a life of her own, she has to do it now. After a run-in with Cal, Summer decides to leave everything behind and make a run for it, changing her life forever. Her only plan is to make it to the Rainbow Gathering, a spiritual forest gathering where hundreds of people meet each year for guidance and support. With only a backpack to keep her safe, Summer’s journey is cut short when she is sexually attacked by a group of local men alongside the road. Defenseless and screaming for help, a boy named Logan and his dog, Lazarus, help her escape and the two create an instant bond like nothing they have ever experienced before.

The Gathering by Beth Burgmeyer creates a wonderful story of friendship, young love, and second chances. As Summer and Logan’s relationship intensifies, as does the connections between other relatable characters. While these develop, the reader can observe that things, and people, are not always what they seem. After Summer runs away, Cal immediately sends out a county-wide search for his missing step-daughter. The tension increases in the story when we find out he has posted notices throughout the surrounding towns with Summer’s face on it. She becomes worried that someone at the Rainbow Gathering may recognize her and report her. Summer knows she can’t go back to her life at home and relies heavily on the support of her friends she meets at the Gathering. However, the tension Burgmeyer effortlessly creates in the first half of the novel quickly wanes in the later half. It becomes easy to forget why Summer is at the Rainbow Gathering at the first place as the focus shifts to what Summer and Logan plan to do after the gathering. Sadly, the Rainbow Gathering eventually comes to an end, but not until Cal suddenly finds Summer after a tip and demands she return home – without Logan. Armed with the power of love, Summer and Logan manage to conquer it all, but not without a fight. The Gathering is an intoxicating read filled with incredibly deep characters, emotional drama, and thematic elements that are relatable for readers of any age.

The Gathering will be published soon.