Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: ARC provided by publisher for review
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.
At first, I couldn't really get into the story. Bria seemed kind of pretentious to me and despite the fact I've wanted to backpack myself, I couldn't really connect with her. But I'm glad I stuck with the novel because that definitely changed! Wanderlove definitely grew on me and definitely got better a couple of chapters in!
As you get to know Bria and her art school aspirations, the unhealthy relationship she had with her ex-boyfriend, and her reasons for the backpacking trip, you find ways to connect with her, and she becomes more alive as a character. She goes on an incredible journey and watching her tackle unfamiliar territory, meet new people and face her past proves to be quite a trip! There's never a dull moment on the trip, but there's time for reflection as Bria begins to move forward and piece together an idea for her future.
There's also some art interspersed throughout the book and it seems to grow along with Bria during the trip. The last few pieces are certainly little masterpieces that capture the essence of what Bria learns throughout her time in Central America!
Lastly, what's an adventure without a little romance to spice it up? I have to say, I quite enjoyed the romance aspect of this novel! It's not a "love-at-first-sight" kind of romance but a gradual, progressive one. That, in my opinion, is closer to real life (oh, I believe in attraction at first sight, but I don't think love is always at first sight!) and it was really cute watching Brian and Rowan get to know each other and fall for each other! It made it seem sweeter in some ways than the romances where the main characters meet each other in page one and are snogging by page three! It's nice to watch the characters get to know each other a little better first!
This book is not what I would normally pick up and read, but I'm very glad I gave it a chance! I've been reading a lot of fantasy and dystopian lately, so Wanderlove was a terrific change of pace for me! Definitely give Wanderlove a try, even if you're not normally into the backpacking and self-discovery sort of thing, it may surprise you and you might enjoy it as much as I did!
Overall: 4.75 out of 5
Plot: 4 stars
Characters: 4.25 stars
Writing: 4.5 stars
Cover: 3.25 stars