Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (March 13, 2012)
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
There is so much to love about this book. From the opening pages, I couldn't help but think of JRR Tolkien's epic quote - "Not all who wander are lost." Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard is a story about a girl who is trying to find out if there is more to life than a broken heart and an uncertain future.
I read Wanderlove as I was going on a journey of my own - a cruise with a friend. And, even though we definitely had luggage and an itinerary, I still felt a certain kinship with Bria. I remember those days of wanting to do something amazing and different - and being scared at the same time. I am the girl who would have done exactly what Bria did - signed up for a safe trip with tour guides and a plan. While I would like to think I am adventerous, I am also scared to travel too far off the beaten path.
In Wanderlove, author Kirsten Hubbard creates a character that is so perfectly imperfect that she feels instantly like your best friend. Bria tries to do it right - from reading the guidebooks and buying the "perfect" travel clothes. Her heart hurts, but she's willing to try and do something on her own terms. It is only when she lands at the airport that she realizes she has signed up for just another version of her normal life. So, when she is invited to really experience what it means to travel through South America, she (tentatively) jumps at the chance. It is only when she leaves the safe path that she realizes how much beauty, danger and hope is in the world.
Reading Wanderlove made me want to chuck my safe life for a few weeks. It made me want to really experience the majesty of the world around me. Through Bria's eyes, I was able to see a world full of so much that we are simply too busy or too blind by our own lives to see. I want to go to a place where my phone doesn't work and actually getting online is an effort. I want to find a place where I can learn to be myself - and rediscover who that really is.
Wanderlove is a beautifully crafted book. There is no denying that. But, the true power in the story is the longing it creates in you to shut the covers, go outside, and discover something new. While we can't all just leave our lives and travel to a foreign country, Hubbard reminds us that there is something waiting to be discovered right outside our doors. Since reading Wanderlove the first time, I have read it two more times. Each time I discover something more about Bria and her journey. I find another character to love. I find another moment in time to cherish. And I find another place to dream of going someday.
Final Thoughts: Wanderlove brings out the journeyer in your heart. Buy it. Then go on a trip and leave it at a hostel for someone else to read.