Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard – REVIEW

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Release Date: March 13th, 2012
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 338 Pages
Sub-genre: Contemporary
Source: Advance Reader Copy
Age Group: Young Adult

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 to 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 is the story of a girl, Bria, and how, in the summer between high school and college, she comes to her own beautiful self-discovery in South America with the help of a bad-boy who is desperately trying to be good.

No doubt about it, this is a coming of age story. Bria is trying to shed her old self behind and she’s determined to show everyone that she’s not who they think she is; she wants to be someome wild and daring – something she isn’t. But the question is, why? I mean, I get it – most 18 year olds want to change something about themselves but at times Bria just seems rather childish in her wishes to be this “daring Bria” who is intent on showing her ex-boyfriend just how awesome she is (and he’s not even there on the trip).

I don’t know – I enjoyed this read and I can definitely see how some people would LOVE it, but it was just okay for me. I don’t have wanderlust (I travel enough already as it is and so the thought of planes isn’t one that makes me squee with excitement) but I can totally see how people who love to travel or want to travel would love it. It’s fresh and I liked Bria’s voice (even if at times, she sounded whiny). Also, it was my mistake for reading this contemporary when I was really craving a high fantasy. Readers, trust (and go with) your mood! It can affect your current read.

Overall, a solid sophomore novel from Ms. Hubbard and I will definitely be picking up Like Mandarin. Fans of Looking for Alaska and Saving Francesca might enjoy this one.

PS- I do not encourage going off with some stranger backpackers in a foreign country. Highly dangerous, so please remember this is a fictional book.

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