Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Published: March 13th, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
352 pages (ebook)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: NetGalley
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Synopsis: 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.

I don't know where to start with this one. There were so many things I loved about Wanderlove.

First of all, Bria was a great character. She was believable, relatable, and likable. I admired her bravery in traveling alone; it's something I've always secretly wanted to do, but have never had the guts to actually do. Bria wanted to temporarily escape her life and all the people who disappointed her and hurt her in various ways, and she succeeded in doing that while having the adventure of a lifetime, and learning surprising things about herself. Her thoughts, emotions, and reactions were so real. She grew so much as a character, and I loved taking that journey with her.

The secondary characters were great, too. Rowan, Starling, and all the other people who made appearances throughout the story. They added to Bria's journey of discovery, and to the story itself with their humour, insight, and knowledge.

I loved how the relationship between Bria and Rowan grew. Their friendship started off kind of rocky and had its moments, but it was enjoyable, whether they were arguing or laughing. They learned a lot from each other and about each other. I loved how the romance between them took time to blossom, and it wasn't the main focus of the story - this was Bria's journey, and in a lot of ways it was Rowan's journey too; it was about them becoming whole people, confronting their demons and their pasts, and figuring out how to move on.

I also really loved learning about the places Bria went. I've never had any real interest in traveling to Central America - nothing against it, I'm just not really a tropical kind of girl. Beaches don't do much for me, and neither does the heat. I'm the type who would rather go to Europe and see historical sites and museums and monuments and scenery. But after reading Wanderlove, I'm actually considering adding the places Bria visited to my bucket list. They were described so vividly - the good, the bad, the sketchy, and the beautiful. I was always excited to see where Bria and Rowan would end up next, and learn little tidbits about local culture and custom.

I try not to compare books to other books - "if you enjoyed *insert title here*, you'll enjoy this book". It doesn't really seem fair, since all books are different. But...I'm going to make an exception, and I mean this as the greatest compliment ever, because these are two of my favorite books. Wanderlove reminded me in the best possible ways of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. The relationships that start out as friends, those sweet, squee-worthy will-they/won't they moments, the witty banter, the developing feelings kept secret, etc. And of course, the travel. The exploration and discovery. The stories themselves are completely different and unique, but some of the elements are what makes these three of my favorite books.

Overall, I thought this book was amazing. Plain and simple. I loved everything about it, from the characters to the dialogue to the places to the writing style. Oh! And the could I forget about the drawings? They were amazing, and added so much to the visual appeal of the book. Ms. Hubbard is multi-talented! Books like this are the reason I love contemporary young adult.

Have you read Wanderlove? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan on reading it? Do you enjoy books about road trips and travel as much as I do?


  1. you really loved this book and your review reflects make me want to read it now...thanks!

  2. Oh, I loved this book, EVERYTHING about it. Travel/road trips are a lot of fun to read about, and I can't wait to be able to do some of my own. :)

  3. Fabulous review! I love that you made it a point to mention how this book teaches girls how to have their own identity, instead of relying on just being a girlfriend to a boy. I didn't know this book even taught this message. That is SO important because young women will do that all the time. It's terrible when you see it happening, so this book is epic if it shows a teenage girl learning how to overcome that all too common tendency. Any book like it is a must-read for teen girls.

    Irene (Boiler Service)


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