Michelle's Review: Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard

book cover ARC: 338 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: March 13, 2012
ISBN: 9780385739375
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: none
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.

Michelle's Review:
Upon finishing this book, I wanted to pack the essentials and go backpacking myself. Wanderlove is an outstanding contemporary young adult read about going off the beaten path and finding yourself.

Bria just graduated from high school and broke up with her boyfriend. To get away for a while, she decided to go on a guided tour to Central America. She soon met Starling and Rowan, siblings and veteran backpackers and realized that a guided tour was not for her. She decided to ditch the tour group and join them for the rest of her trip. Soon, Bria was traveling on chicken buses, staying in insect-ridden hostels with no indoor plumbing (sometimes no plumbing at all), meeting other colorful backpackers and seeing and experiencing Central America as it was meant to be seen and experienced. Along the way Bria work through issues that she cannot shake about her art, her failed relationship, her parents, her future and the possibility of a new love.

Right away I liked Bria--she's the kind of girl I would be friends with. She was not perfect and she had a lot of issues (especially with her art and her inability to do anything since her break-up with her artist boyfriend) but she's very likable. I knew where her thoughts and feelings were coming from and I saw a bit of myself in her.

As for Rowan, I was not sure about him in the beginning. He had a mysterious past but as the book went on and I got to know him along with Bria, I grew to like him as well. I really liked that the romance element was downplayed until the end of the book. Yes, the attraction was there (of course!) but Bria and Rowan had a true friendship first and foremost. The slow build of the romance made the moment between Bria and Rowan in the end all the more sweeter.

Besides Bria and Rowan, there were other characters that I liked from Starling to Glenna Heron to Sonia of Laughingbird Caye--I even liked Ariel and Emily to a point. The only character I didn't like was Bria's ex-boyfriend Toby. There was this one particular flashback scene when they were waiting for the results of who got in this art program they both applied to and when Toby breaks up with her. The way he did it... I wanted to jump into the book and wring his neck because I knew exactly what Bria was feeling as I was in a similar situation.

Of course, the exotic places Bria and Rowan traveled to were amazing.
A traveler herself and having visited many of the places in the book, the author's love for the region really shined through. She did a really wonderful job with the descriptions and the imagery it brought to mind. I absolutely loved the illustrations and they complement the story and Bria's character well. This novel was just plain delightful: great writing, a colorful setting and interesting characters. Wanderlove was a unique and inspiring story that makes you want to take a chance and go off the beaten path to places unknown.

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1 comment

  1. Yay! So glad you liked it! We were fans of LIKE MANDARIN and have been looking forward to Hubbard's follow-up for a while. Hope to win WANDERLOVE (thanks for the giveaway!) but even if we don't, we'll definitely get our hands on a copy.


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