Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
YA Contemporary Fiction, Published March 2012
Read May 2012, 352 pp.
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.
Everyone daydreaming of summer will enjoy a trip into Wanderlove. Bria has just graduated from high school and is looking for an adventure before deciding what to do about college. She put all her hopes and dreams of attending art school with her boyfriend, but he is now her ex-boyfriend. She feels let down by him, her friends who were supposed to join her on this trip, and her parents. So not willing to give into their doubts about her, Bria decides to take off with the Global Vagabonds and heads to Central America by herself. But she soon finds that she’s much younger than the average Global Vagabond and decides to strike out on her own adventure.
I really loved the artwork that is incorporated into the book as Bria starts to open up to her new friends as well as herself about her love of art. I liked that Bria’s character does stay true to her age and I liked that she took the trip on her own and the reader really gets to go on this coming of age journey with her. I would’ve really liked to have seen Bria get out of her own head a bit more and actually visit more places as she was backpacking with Rowan as well as see more of Rowan’s character. With such travel experience, I knew Rowan had more to offer, but his character often fell a little flat for me. Ultimately though, I loved this story and the backpacking travel experience that the author brings to the book. I think it does stay true to a YA audience and they will love traveling alongside Bria, Starling, and Rowan.
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte BFYR/Random House Children’s Books for providing me with an e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.