Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (imprint of Random House)
Upcoming Release Date: March 13, 2012
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: Digital ARC from NetGalley
How I heard about it: It’s been on my to-read list since I finished Kirsten’s debut, Like Mandarin.
Summary: Bria needs to get away. Turns out her (ex) boyfriend didn’t care as much about her as she thought and her plans for college are not working out so well either. Her best friends back out of a trip they had planned with her, so Bria decides to go to Guatamala by herself. While there she leaves her structured (middle-aged) group behind in favor of traveling with backpackers who are living on the edge.
Kirsten Hubbard is an author I admire very much; I read Like Mandarin last year after I came upon her blog YA Highway, a place where she shares her insight on writing and offers a platform for other writers to do the same. I’m not an author, nor do I ever plan to be, but I find the blog to be fascinating. Kirsten’s writing is even more enjoyable. While I enjoyed Like Mandarin, I looooved Wanderlove. I am a girl that appreciates a good book full of travel, sight-seeing, a cute (unobtainable) boy, and a girl trying to put the pieces of her life back together. That’s exactly what this book was all about… and so much more.
One of my favorite characters was Rowan, a boy that Bria meets briefly in the airport when she arrives in Guatemala. He later becomes her travel companion, and from him she learns about “wanderlove.” In a nutshell, this is what it’s all about:
“It’s about looking to the future. You can appreciate the good things all around you, but the best part is imminent, just out of reach. Like…perpetual determination.” (excerpt from Wanderlove)
Rowan is a wanderer, constantly moving from place to place, never settling down. While he’s kind, he’s also a little bit snarky. While he’s a diver and loves the beach, he’s also complex and is secretly a book nerd. He has a dark history and is very guarded. He doesn’t know what to make of Bria.
Bria is a girl that is running from her ex-boyfriend, her art, college, parents that are too self-absorbed to notice her problems, and two best friends who are polar opposites. She finds herself stuck in life and unsure of what to do. Guatemala is scary and overwhelming for her, but she decides to embrace her wild side and step off the beaten path. This is where she and Rowan come together.
Still, the development of their friendship is difficult. Bria and Rowan slowly learn that constantly dwelling on the past can make you miss out on something really great standing right in front of you. This isn’t an epic love story with lots of kissing all throughout the book. They help each other face their pasts, ready themselves to confront the future, and learn to trust again.
It was, though, the travel aspect of this book that was absolutely phenomenal. I learned from a little bit of research that Hubbard is a travel connoisseur. I have read quite a few travel books, but none have felt as authentic and real as this one. I could tell that either Hubbard had done her research (really well) or had been through similar experiences. While this book at times felt a bit long, I never minded because I was constantly learning something new about the setting or the characters. Rowan and Bria’s lives are complicated, so the pacing was perfect for dealing with such big issues.
I can’t say enough good things about Wanderlove. I’m so thankful to have gotten to read this book, and I’m super anxious to travel now. Oh, the places I would go…