Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Published on March 13, 2012
by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: borrowed from the library
My summary: Still reeling from heartbreak, new high school grad Bria impulsively books a trip to Guatemala. She's barely settled into her seat on the plane when she realizes she's made every rookie travel mistake in the book. She's overpacked, brought all the wrong things, trapped herself on a group bus tour that will keep her safe in a tourist bubble. So Bria takes a leap of faith and joins a duo of young backpackers on a spontaneous adventure. She'll learn a lot about the world, and maybe even more about herself.
My thoughts: While I enjoyed Kirsten Hubbard's Like Mandarin, I wasn't sure I wanted to try this book. Something about the whole "find your bliss through travel" thing didn't really grab me. Then I read some glowing reviews and decided to give it a go. I'm really glad I did!
I always admire an author with the guts to let her main character be unlikeable straight off the bat. Bria's a sad sack when she first appears on the page: gloomy about her break-up, sullen that her friends bailed on her planned European Grand Tour, cranky about the color of her jacket. She gets on the plane, lies to her seat mates about her travel plans, and gets totally busted. As the book progresses, more is revealed about how and why Bria developed this prickly exterior.
Wanderlove touches on -- while never belaboring -- themes of independence and self-confidence, the search for "authenticity" through travel, and finding a balance between spontaneity and responsibility. I love that Kirsten Hubbard doesn't stoop to oversimplification. She does a great job of showing how a bad relationship has completely eroded Bria's self-confidence. She reminds us that travel can be a life-altering experience. But Hubbard looks at the other side of the travel coin, too, suggesting that perma-vagabonds like Starling and Rowan might stay in constant motion because they're running away from something.
Okay, Rowan fans: brace yourselves. Sorry to say it, but as much as I found Rowan's reformed bad boy persona completely charming, my brain just kept going: rebound, rebound, rebound! Am I a complete cynic? Feel free to yell at me in the comments. I can take it ;)
I think Wanderlove will appeal to a broad range of YA readers: actual teens who long to break free from their helicopter parents, "new adults" chafing at their increased responsibilities, and regular adults like me. As I read, I was cringing inside as I imagined one of my kids alone in a strange country someday. At the same time, I was recalling fond memories of my first solo international trip.
Wanderlove is definitely the kind of literary journey you'll want to sign up for!
Have you read this? Planning to?
Scroll down for today's Divergent trivia question!
I wasn't originally into reading this book either. For some reason it just didn't grab my attention. After watching a vlog review on it, it totally changed my mind and I added it to my TBR. So glad to see you really liked it too! Not sure when I'll get to read it, but I will read it! hahaReplyDelete
Well, let me know when you get to it!Delete
It's funny how we make snap judgments about books. I mean, we can't read everything!!
Seriously, right?!! LOL!Delete
Yes! Oh, I am so glad you loved this book! You're right, I think it can speak to a wide range of readers (helicopter parents, ha! hovering and hovering.) I just thought this book was amazing in so many ways! And Rowan a rebound? Hmmm, yes, it seems like that would be the case in most circumstances, but I just fell for him and Bria and I like to think they are out there somewhere dividing their time between art school and dive school and having fabulous adventures in between:)ReplyDelete
Well, something you said in this comment landed it in spam but I have retrieved it.Delete
Hoping you'd defend poor Rowan. I hope you are right!!!
That's so strange, wonder what it was? Huh. Well I'm glad you were able to retrieve it:)Delete
It happens every so often with comments and I'm never sure why...
I hadn't decided about this one, but I'll add it to my list now (of course with over 500 books on my tbr who knows when I'll get to it). I know you said you didn't like Bria in the beginning, did you like her at the end?ReplyDelete
I liked her more at the end. I can't say I loved her, but I hope she found happiness -- with Rowan or without.Delete
(Yes, I know that she is an imaginary person.)
I loved this book and totally gushed about it to you, but it had little to do with the romance. I mean, Rowan was a nice diversion I guess, but I was more involved with Bria's adventure and learning about what made her turn away from her art. I also spent a lot of time dreaming about joining the peace corp. Glad you liked the book!ReplyDelete
A nice diversion. Yes, that's right.Delete
I just started reading Wanderlove this morning. I was a little hesitant when it was recommended to me by a friend because it isn't the type of book I normally read. I decided to give it a chance though, because why not broaden my horizons by a books length at least?ReplyDelete
So, I am only in a few pages and still not so sure, but then lo and behold, I get your review in my inbox and it pushes me to continue on. So thank you. Your review (hopefully) kept me from missing out on a great read.
Let me know where you come out. I mean, not everyone is going to like every book! But I liked this one way more than I thought, and I'm glad I read it.Delete
I love your review! This seems like a book that everybody loves. I don't think I have seen one bad review for it. I think I am going to have to read this.ReplyDelete
Cristina and I are pulling you over to the contemporary side...Delete
I want to read this one, but I've got such a nomadic heart that I'm afraid it will just make me want to take off. :)ReplyDelete
It probably would. It made me want to travel. Though with my seriously needy family and a dog with severe separation anxiety, I'm always plotting my escape!Delete
I really really really really loved this books (can you tell? lol) I heard it was good, but I don't think I was prepared. I just want to travel and this book makes me want to drop everything and go right now :)ReplyDelete
Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books
I felt the same way. I read that the author wrote (writes?) travel guides and you can really tell! Her details are fantastic!Delete
I wasn't planning on reading WANDERLOVE, but I may just do so now. This is why you read reviews I guess!!!ReplyDelete
That's true. Often I mentally write a book off as not for me, then if I read positive reviews, I give it a second look!Delete
Yeah, I wasn't sure about this book when I first heard of it either, mostly because the synopsis on goodreads starts starts out like this: "It all begins with a stupid question: Are you a Global Vagabond?" When I saw that, I was like, "Uh, yeah, that is a stupid question!" and I was totally put off. But then I saw all these people loving it so I added it to the TBR list. And now I'll definitely have to read it since you liked it so much!ReplyDelete
And that's great about the character being unlikable right from the start - I like my characters to have flaws, as long as they grow and change in the course of the book. And it's nice for them to have the flaws right from the beginning.
Great review, Jen!
I think the question was from a travel brochure that the main character picks up. But I agree, I hate questions like that. I'm contrary and always just want to say, "No!"Delete
I do like characters that grow on me, though that can be a risky move on the part of the author...