This cold and rainy Saturday afternoon seems like the perfect time to revisit the hot and sunny climes of Central America. Ready? Let’s go!
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Delacorte Press, 2012
provided by Netgalley for review
Determined to leave behind her broken heart, shattered dreams of art school, arguing parents, and unsupportive friends, 18-year-old Bria Sandoval signs up for a guided tour of Central America. She quickly learns that she is in fact, not a Global Vagabond. Her travel companions are all middle-aged tourists, all unwilling to head off the beaten path. When a handsome young backpacker invites her to a party, Bria seizes the opportunity to unleash her inner bad girl. She ditches the group and joins Rowan and his sister Starling, both seasoned backpackers. Both Rowan and Bria are keeping secrets and trying to out run their pasts. Will two weeks off the beaten path be enough for them to forgive themselves and learn to trust each other?
Wanderlove is a beautiful summer romance (that sounds a bit cheesy, but trust me, it’s not). Bria and Rowan are both on journeys that are just as much emotional as they are physical, so it’s not all light and fluffy, sunshine and butterflies. They both carry heavy emotional baggage and painful past experiences. Hubbard expertly captures the uncertainty of the late teen years, when young adults find themselves trying to separate from their parents and their high school experiences and make major life decisions.
My favorite part of the book was watching Bria change. In the beginning she was naive and honestly, a little bratty. She was hurt and angry and her entire self-worth was tied to what others thought of her. Her backpacking trip was only a few short weeks, but the journey was life-changing. It took a while, but eventually I was rooting for her, hoping that she would wake up and start living in the present instead of dwelling on the past (ditto for Rowan, the bad-boy trying to be good).
Wanderlove is a tale of adventure and redemption, healing and forgiveness, and most of all, it’s about the rewards that come from taking amazing risks.
Wanderlove has the winning combination of a touching story, descriptions of tropical locales and backpacking etiquette so vivid the reader is transported along on Bria’s adventures and whimsical illustrations that are little treasures throughout. Fans of contemporary fiction, travel, and romances will want pick this one up.
Readalikes: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith