Published March 13, 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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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.
Wanderlove was actually difficult for me to rate. While there were aspects that I absolutely loved, there were others that fell flat for me, and others that flat out didn’t work.
I attempted to read this book numerous times before I actually managed to push myself into it. I would make it to the 15% mark, put it down, uninterested. 20%, put it down, uninterested. The beginning simply did not catch my attention, and for this reason, I’m actually tempted to give it a lower rating. However, on my third or fourth attempt I found myself unable to put it down.
I loved the characters and the settings. Hubbard does a fantastic job with making these characters feel authentic, and likeable. Rowan had a little bit of swoon factor, and Bria was an artist, which I am a sucker for. I loved their growth throughout the story. The drawings throughout the story added an extra layer that sets this book apart from most contemporary novels that I have read, and it made it that much more enjoyable. The settings are vivid and left me feeling like America was inadequate, and suddenly I was aching to travel. To see something beyond these borders.
The romance was fun for me, though I didn’t see the tension that a lot of people have raved about. I thought a lot of the build-up in regards to Rowan and Bria’s secrets were pointless, as the “reveals” were pretty anti-climatic. Maybe I’m just not easily shocked, or maybe I should just chalk this up as another thing that makes the story realistic. But I thought they would be more intense, and there are things Rowan and Bria never end up sharing with each other. With Bria, this was tolerable because at least we knew, but we didn’t see many of Rowan’s secrets. One of them was key to the story and to Rowan’s attitude, but we never find out the story behind it. This is probably my only *real* let down with Wanderlove.
Overall, Wanderlove is an engrossing read that will leave you aching to see the world. I would recommend it.