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Book Review: Wanderlove

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

by Kirsten Hubbard

5 stars: Keeper
Publication: March 13, 2012 (Hardback)
Pages: 352
Author: Facebook | Twitter | Blog
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Buy it: Amazon Hardcopy | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry into this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.

Wanderlove: a title as beautiful as its story and the action for which it was named. The story follows Bria on a journey to heal from a bitter breakup, a chance encounter with a couple of backpackers, and her subsequent decisions to change herself for the better. The various locations that Bria visits on her backpacking journey seem to follow Rowan's plans; however, she learns something new about herself at each stop.

Both Bria and Rowan are running from their past. While they may grow to enjoy each other's company, Bria and Rowan also share a mutual discomfort about their past and with sharing their innermost thoughts with others. At first, they talk about nothing of importance and merely accept each other as travel companions forced upon each other by Rowan's half-sister Starling. As time passes, they grow more comfortable around each other, and they develop feelings that they didn't think were possible.

This is more than a book about summer romance. Wanderlove is about finding yourself and accepting yourself no matter what anyone else says about you. It is about breaking free from the past and living for the present, with expectations and hopes for the future. Bria's problems are ones that pretty much all teens face: she is angry and resentful; she lacks confidence in herself; she wants to prove her independence. Her thoughts and feelings are entirely understandable, and it is easy to relate to Bria.

Kirsten Hubbard is an amazing writer, artist, and vagabond backpacker. I enjoyed reading about Bria's traveling experiences. I am insanely jealous of her and Kirsten. In fact, I'm tempted to take off for Central America this summer and bring along my copy of Wanderlove with me as a guidebook. Too bad Bria already found Rowan, or I would be looking for him during my stay. He is sweet and gorgeous. Think maybe I'll run into them? I could use some weathered backpacking friends, especially ones like them!

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.
2 comments on "Book Review: Wanderlove"
  1. What an awesome concept, a global vagabond!!

    I like it when there are normal teen problems in books - I mean, we can all relate that way and empathize.

    And how cool are all those settings!!

    Bria and Rowen sound like the perfect characters for a life-defining journey.

    Thanks for the review:)

  2. I'm soo happy you liked this book. I'm about to read it and I have pretty high expectations so it's good to know you weren't disappointed.

    Thanks for the review!


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