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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best YA Contemporary story I've read in a LONG time, March 14, 2012
This review is from: Wanderlove (Hardcover)
by: Kristen Hubbard
Genre: YA Contemporary
Coffee Beans: 5/5
Spoilers: No way and I ruining this for you
Favorite Line: "Tonight, I am the bohemian beach fairy of my fantasies." pg 277
Disclaimers: I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for this honest review.

Reading a book like Wanderlove always makes me stop and sit quietly after I've finished. I think about what I've just read, what it means, what might happen next, but mainly just think, "Wow. That was really good." Books like this also make me strive to be a better writer. To see what good writing really looks like and to experience the impact a book can have on a reader.

This book also sort of made me depressed. Depressed that I didn't do more traveling in my youth before I settled down. I wish that I would've packed a bag and left for Guatamala like Bria did. If you're young and reading this, travel. I did a bit before college (Amsterdam, Spain, France), and am glad I did. It's worth the money and the time. Be adventurous and make some amazing memories and create some great stories for yourself.

Publisher's Summary:

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 into 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.

So, what are the events that lead Bria up to taking this trip by herself? Well, she and her boyfriend, Toby, broke up. We don't know a lot about Toby, except for a few scattered mentions by Bria. She was supposed to take the trip with her two best friends, Olivia and Reese, but they bailed on her, citing the fact that it was too soon after Bria's breakup for her to be a good travel partner. Great friends, right? She was going to go to art school, got accepted and everything, but for whatever reason, she doesn't go. So, Bria decides to book herself an all-inclusive, group travel session for three weeks on the Mayan Road. But things don't go as she plans.
As readers, we're dumped right into Bria's story. Here's what we know:

She's 18
She applied to art school but didn't go
She had a boyfriend, but they broke up
She's stopped drawing completely
She's going to Guatamala. Alone

As the book goes on, we discover (through small flashbacks) about the things that have driven Bria to make the decision she has. Her boyfriend was royally screwed up and she's trying to escape everything she can. Hubbard is one of the most talented and brilliant writers of YA Contemporary I've come across. I'm not kidding when I say that I was with Bria every moment of her journey.I felt what she felt, experienced what she did, and wanted to be along with her, backpacking through Central America alongside Starling and Rowan. The beaches were beautiful and the experiences more so.

Hubbard's talent at EVERYTHING is spellbinding. The voice she gives to Bria is funny, snarky, and instantly likable. I wanted to hurry up and read this story to know everything that happened, but at the same time, didn't want it to end (there was actually a day my Nook didn't work and I thought I was going to die because I didn't get to read any more Wanderlove! Yes, I realize that's slightly pathetic). She didn't have to go into long descriptions or heavy scenes showing the reader what a complete jerk Toby was. She did it by dropping small comments made by Bria or quick memories. She did the same thing with the relationship between Bria's parents. In one line I knew EXACTLY what kind of home life she had and the dynamics between her mom and dad.

The ending is complete and fits the character and story perfectly. I found myself with Bria and feeling her anxiousness and then disappointment.I felt her reluctance and joy. I smiled and sighed with contentment. I have never been more "there", both mentally and emotionally, in any book than I was in that one scene.

Then, I thought to myself, "I'm lame! Sitting in an office all day, every day, when I could be out there--backpacking! Discovering the world! Agh. It's just a book, real life isn't like that."

Then I looked at Kristen's blog and felt worse about myself than I did before.

It is possible! And Kristen's living it! Seriously, though, if you get a chance, peruse through her blog and travel adventures (did you know the drawings in the book are her very own?) This girl is kick. Ass. Youth is wasted on the young, as they say. If I could do it all over again, I'd backpack around the world. Meet amazing people and make priceless memories. The travel bug has hit me hard and the more I think about it, the more possible it seems that I can still make that dream come true.

Wanderlove is a beautifully written coming of age story about a girl who's lost so much of herself in a boy who didn't deserve it, that she couldn't find who she was anymore.It takes a journey through Central America with a complete stranger for Bria to remember who she is and what she loves and to learn to trust again.

I am picking up her other book, Like Mandarin, now. As in, it's already sitting on my Nook, waiting to be read.

I always tell you to pick up the book and make the decision for yourself, but in this case, I strongly urge you to read Wanderlove. It really is one of the best books I've read in a long time. :)

Happy reading!
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