Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher: Ember Books
Publication Date: March 13th, 2012
Pages: 335
Song I Played While Reading: Next In Line by Walk The Moon
Rating: 4 stars

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.

This book has been on my Goodreads TBR pile for years. I've never read a book about backpacking before, and have always found it interesting. It was only when I started considering traveling myself that I realized, holy crap do I really wanna read this. So I got it for dirt cheap on Book Outlet and voila! I read it.
I liked this book a lot. I didn't love it, like I was expecting to, but that was probably my only complaint. The characters were a great bunch of people who I personally wanted to backpack with, the writing was fabulous and made me feel like I was really there, and I LOVED the drawings in this. It brought the entire book to life, vividly giving me a glimpse into these amazing moments.
The relationship between the Bria and Rowan felt true, not at all rushed or fake. They each held the answers to helping each other, and I love how they really dug deep and hashed things out, never afraid to speak their minds. I also absolutely adored Starling. She's exactly the kind of person I aspire to be.
The writing flowed easily, turning Bria into a surprisingly relatable character that I found myself laughing or crying along with. We get small journal entries, travel tips, and flashbacks, but sparingly enough so that it doesn't weigh down the story. Hubbard also touches upon the different reasons why people backpack and I found it absolutely fascinating, especially when told from the natives of the island. There was also as surprisingly big amount of emotional depth in here too. Bria really struggles with coming to terms with her past and accepting herself for who she is, and you can't help but cheer for her.

"I expect instant culture shock when our plane touches down, but the Guatemala City airport looks like every other I've seen. Just with more Spanish. I loose sight of the blonde girl as I attempt to navigate all sorts of foreign customs, like Customs."

""You think theres any place left in the world nobody been before?" I wonder.
"I stopped traveling many years ago," Sonia says. "So I don't know the answer."
Then she leans forward, wedging her coffee mug in her cleavage. "But what I do know is this: you got to find your own places. The places you get, girl, the ones that stick in your heart. And if you're lucky, you find people to share them with."

"Emily kneels with both hands on the seashell. "Okay," she says. "My question is... have you ever cheated on someone?"
Ariel and Jack answer yes, while Rowan and I answer no. I'm impressed until Rowan winks at me and I realize I dont know whether he's lying.
Great. This is going to be a mindfuck."

(Image and synopsis from Goodreads)

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