Monday, 23 July 2012

Book Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Title: Wanderlove
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher: Delacorte
Released: March 2012
Summary: Are you a Global Vagabond? No, but 18-year-old Bria wants to be. 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. - Goodreads | Amazon 

I think the thing that makes Wanderlove such a great book is that it appeals to almost everyone. Most people like to travel. Most people have, at some stage in their life, gone through an internal crisis, where they have been uncertain of their future and which path they should take. Most people love the idea of a journey of self discovery. Most people wish they could have an adventure, preferably in an exotic location and with an attractive tour guide. And if most people don't like these things, that's fine, cause I do.

Kirsten Hubbard has created the perfect travel novel for young adults, and for all readers really. Bria is a young woman who is left reeling after her break-up with her boyfriend Toby and subsequent inability to find inspiration and comfort in her art anymore. Getting away seems like the perfect idea. Haven't we all wanted to just pack up and leave our problems behind, if only for a little while? Despite a bumpy start (the tour group Bria signed up for is populated by the over 55 crowd) she finds her way when she meets bohemian backpackers Starling and Rowan.  

Hubbard describes the backpacker way of life to a T - not that I am an expert on all things backpacking - but it all felt real, from the lack of running water and creepy bugs, to the risks of traveling alone in a foreign country. It is all the little elements and nuances that make this an authentic piece of travel fiction, written by someone who, evidently, has travelled to these places. 

Wanderlove would greatly appeal to people who love romance. Not that insta-love stuff, but the slow build of a new relationship. Filled with awkward stilted moments, confusion, and arguments as two people find their footing around each other. I loved the will-they-won't-they aspect of Bria and Rowan's relationship, and that their friendship wasn't rushed and unrealistic. 

The reader is not only taken on a journey through South America in Wanderlove but  also on a journey of Bria's self discovery. There is a strong character development arc in this novel that is intimately weaved through Bria's travels and experiences. It is refreshing to read how much the trip changed Bria by the end of the book. I couldn't finish this review without mentioning the illustrations that are littered throughout Wanderlove. These beautiful drawings, which give us glimpses into Bria's sketchbook, add so much to the story. 

Wanderlove is so many things. An inspirational story about healing and finding oneself. A physical and emotional journey through a foreign land. A beautifully written and illustrated novel with heart.   



  1. Seems like a great novel! I'm not really into insta-love so it's good they slowly build the relationships and that it takes a long journey!
    Your reviews are very detailed and great to read!
    - Alex

    1. Thank you! I hate insta-love too. It's all about the slow burn for me.

  2. I really loved this book. The backpacking, romance, and characters were all great. I'm glad you like it.

  3. Great review! I've been really looking forward to this book.I tried to win over at goodreads(and didn't win) but after your review I will go pick up a copy :D

    1. Thanks! I haven't tried entering those goodreads comps but I might give them a try. Would be worth it if I win :)

  4. You just made me want to read this even more than I wanted to before. I absolutely love romantic connections that are built up over time! Need a copy now!

  5. I've been wanting to read this book for awhile now, but I didn't really know what it was about... Your review has definitely convinced me to move it up on my TBR pile!


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