Friday, August 16, 2013

Book Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Author:  Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 338 pages
Publication Date:  March 13, 2012

From Goodreads:
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 to 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.

This book made me wish I were eighteen again and I could do what Bria did, which is to go backpacking through a foreign country.  This was such a good book.  A character driven novel that focuses on Bria, who is an artist who does not draw anymore because of her ex-boyfriend.  A person who has been a watcher instead of a doer and wants to change that.  Meeting Starling and then Rowan becomes the best thing that ever happens to her.  Rowan has a checkered past that he is trying to leave behind. His philosophy is Wanderlove:  “Wanderlove is about forgetting the bad things and focusing on the good. Out with the old and in with the new... The only way to escape the past is to keep moving forward.”  He doesn't want to talk about his past, and neither does Bria.  At first.  As they travel together, they become closer and start to open up to each other.  Even though this book takes place within a two-week time period, their growing relationship feels slow and realistic.  It was sweet and I loved it.  

Kirsten Hubbard's writing made it easy to visualize traveling through Central America and it was clear from how she described backpacking that she knows what she is writing about.  And I loved the drawings throughout the novel, especially the one of Rowan (And I could see them fine on my Kindle, by the way).  

This was an engrossing read, a great book to read in the summer, and the ending made me smile.  

Posted by:  Pam 


  1. This book definitely made me want to strap on a backpack and just set off into the world. I loved the drawings, too. They were definitely my favorite part. I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

    1. The drawings added so much to the story, if you ask me. It was almost like you could see Bria changing through her drawings. I love reading these books where the MC travels, at least I can live vicariously for a couple of hours! ~Pam

  2. Ahh this is one I want to read SO bad! Glad to hear it is good :)

    1. I would definitely recommend it. I enjoyed everything about it: the setting, the characters, just everything. I wish I had been that gutsy when I was that age. Oh well! ~Pam

  3. This sounds like the book for me. I love contemporary and traveling and I love when the two are combined. I like the message too about focusing on the good things, eyes toward the future. I really need to prioritize this one to read sooner rather than later. Great review!