YA Contemporary (Travel)
352 pages, hardcover
Available March 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley
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.
I'm in love. WANDERLOVE spoke to my heart, to my desire to be a global vagabond, to grow wings and fly away to exotic locales and have adventures with adorable backpack boys. Personally, I was too chicken to go when I was younger, too influenced by my mother who was afraid of travel and letting me out of the country on my own.
But not Bria. Sure, she might be scared, but she signs up and heads off to Central America with no real clue of what she's getting herself into, excited by the prospect of traveling to a place no one she knows has ever gone and doing so on her own. She winds up on a tour with middle-aged mothering types who stifle her and, when she runs into Starling, a freewheeling backpacker, she plunges headfirst into an adventure of a lifetime.
Watching Bria grow, learn, and find her happiness through her travel experiences was a breath of fresh air, air ladened with the scent of tropical flowers, starlit lakes, and unwashed backpackers. She starts out a tightly curled bud, sheltered and unsure of her future and her abilities. She evolves into a capable, more confident, and stronger flower with the capability to survive and thrive.
The relationships between the characters--Bria, Starling, and Rowan--are beautifully drawn. While siblings Starling and Rowan are both experienced backpackers and knowledgeable in the ways of travel, they're running from their pasts. There's a little bit of a love affair between Bria and Rowan but it's not the driving force behind the story.
Enhanced by Kirsten Hubbard's own sketches and extensive travel experience, WANDERLOVE will fill your heart with a strong desire to strap on a backpack and have your own travel adventure.