Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Publication: March 12th 2013 by Ember
Format: Finished copy/Paperback
Source: Purchased from Fully Booked
Eighteen-year-old Bria wants to be a Global Vagabond. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. So when Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspoken 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 through Mayan villages and remote Belizean islands, they discover they’re both seeking to leave behind the old versions of themselves. The secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. But Bria realizes she can’t run forever. At some point, you have to look back.
Bria Sandoval is determined to prove to her jerk ex-boyfriend, her two best friends that ditched their travel plan, and basically everyone that she is independent. And what other way to prove it than to travel to the exotic jungles of Central America. Little did she know that this trip is not what she expects it to be. Hopping off the plane, she discovers that she is stuck with a tour group who seems to be a lot older than her and not only that, she’s kept on a short leash by Marcy, guide of the Global Vagabonds. So when she bumps into Starling and Rowan, experienced backpackers (cool kids of travelling) she is convinced to ditch her tour group and explore Guatemala like a real backpacker. And that’s where the real adventure begins.
Let me talk about the cover first, which did not appeal to me that much. It was very plain and wasn’t eye-catching. I wish they added more color or something inspired by a situation in the book. Although, I think the girl on the cover is supposed to be Bria. On the plus side, it wasn’t really the cover that caught my attention but it’s good ratings and reviews, however, it doesn’t apply to everyone. Not everyone reads reviews before diving into a book. The first thing people look at is the cover, right? Well, you get my point.
Another thing is the pace, a story told in a span of 20 days (+ flashbacks) could either be too short, too long, too slow, too rushed or just right that we don’t even notice. But in this case, it was a bit slow for me in the beginning. I kept putting it down to be very honest, but I finally got around it after a few chapters. My advice: just keep reading!
As you turn each page in Wanderlove, you will discover that it’s more than just discovering new places, it’s also about finding yourself in the process. It’s about learning that there is more to yourself than you already know.
Overall, I recommend Wanderlove to everyone who loves to explore outside their comfort zones and to everyone who doesn’t. It’s very realistic and it’s a free plane ticket to Guatemala! 😉
Character Development of Bria – From Bria the Observer to Bria who actually tries. In the first part of the story, Bria is portrayed as the girl with a lot of “I’d rather not’s” which ends up to a lot of regrets on her part. She has a luggage full (pun intended) of worries that she keeps trying to ignore, but at the same time, still carries the weight along with her. But as the story progresses, so did Bria. Just like Rowan’s first travel rule according to Bria: The smaller the backpack, the bigger the ego. Bria did not only lessen her load literally (with the help of Starling) but also realized that she needed to let go of the things that she keeps on dragging behind her, things that restrains her from seeing the beauty of the here and now. She also learned to face and accept her mistakes from the past and realize that she can’t escape by running away from it.
The Drawings (illustrated by the author herself) – Ever heard of the phrase “Show, don’t tell.”? Kirsten Hubbard did just that and took it to a different level by adding illustrations by the main character; showing what Bria sees through her eyes which is depicted into her sketchbook. To be honest, every time I turn the page, I always anticipate a drawing to help me visualize especially in a setting where the places are too hard to pronounce. It wasn’t because the author had a hard time using words to demonstrate what’s going on, it was actually the opposite. With or without the drawings, the story was very detailed but it still gave its readers an area for imagining and interpreting the situation. But let’s admit, we all enjoyed picture books when we were young. So who wouldn’t appreciate those drawings?
Bria and Rowan’s Relationship – As a reader of the YA Contemporary genre, I actually have a preference for books that make me swoon but stories with insta-love is a major turn-off. That’s why I’m glad this book didn’t give even a hint of that. The whole story is set over the span of 20 days but Wanderlove made sure that there will be no rush between the building of the characters’ relationship. Bria and Rowan went through a lot of secrets, lies, mistakes and experiences before learning to completely trust each other and that made Bria and Rowan’s relationship very genuine.