I first wrote half of this review around September of last year… I only just finished up the end/rating section (impossibly late) but I still agree with what I said :)
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.
My Expectations: so ridiculously high, I absolutely loved Like Mandarin, and this one sounded so amazing.
Delivery: so many smiles.
It’s funny because I swear Wanderlove is pretty much my own personal vacation. I’ve been waiting and waiting to read it for ages. I was so stoked to start. I’m blown away by whatever amazing things are happening, whether these things are small, crazy, insightful, beautiful… Nearing the end I’m dreading the conclusion (like major-ly. I was getting upset that the story was ending at all.. why couldn’t it go on forever?). At the end, I’m sad that it’s over but happy that it happened.
That’s Wanderlove in a nutshell.
And yeah, it’s not the most eloquent way to say it but it seems lately that I’m stricken when it comes to being eloquent. This book is the epitome of contemporary YA in the sense that in embodies the truth and honesty behind being a teenager. It’s what draws me into this genre and hasn’t made me want to ever wander away.
Bria Sandoval is perhaps the most genuine and relatable YA characters in recent memory. It’s like Kirsten Hubbard could be inside my head and steal all my thoughts and plant them into Bria but still make her totally different from me. She’s her own person yet I could relate to her emotions and that’s just great character creation, I tell you. I read this over the summer following my high school graduation, so I felt such a stronger connection to Bria's character than if I had read it at any other time.
The plot of the book is gorgeous. Like beyond gorgeous, it’s ethereal and otherworldly and using Central America as a backdrop was genius. It’s different yet it felt so authentic, whether they were lying on a dock surrounded by the ocean or talking about the sweat between the backpack and their backs… I know Kirsten Hubbard is a travel writer and it might just be because I don’t really read many non-North-America books but it’s as if the author was partly telling her own adventures as well, if that makes sense. And yes, that’s a great thing.
And here’s the paragraph dedicated completely to the traveling: It makes me want to go to places where I won’t have hot showers and I’ll eat sketchy food and live in hostels that may or may not be infested with mosquitoes. That’s how convincing Wanderlove is. It really broadened my sense of travel and it inspired me to explore Toronto when I first got here, and I’m sure whenever I’m on my next adventure, I’ll be thinking of Bria.
Now moving on to the characters, it’s like Hubbard can do no wrong. Each and every character was beautifully drawn and had his or her own history to tease the reader. I loved each and every backstory as unique and interesting characters were introduced, but what I liked more was the character growth from Bria and Rowan.
Also, there are illustrations! That were so pretty. Oh you talented person, you.
Rating in HP Terms: Exceeds Expectations/Outstanding
Recommended for: All YA contemp fans, people who like traveling :)
9.1/10 – because well, haven’t you heard? This book is amazeballs. I think it’s not necessarily an acquired taste because it does have wonderful, universal themes of self and physical discovery; but it does cater to specific, wanderlust-infected audience as well, and I think this is the type of book that I remember when I think about traveling, the type of book that makes me brave in the face of exploring new ideas, and the type of book that sparks my curiosity about the world. So if it seems like your type of thing… what are you waiting for?
author website / blog
Wanderlove website (I love it!!)