Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Release Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Travel
Available Formats: Hardcover and eBook
My Shelf: Own ARC (eBook)
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.

Wanderlove, simply put, was breathtaking. This book tugged at my heart and just really resonated with me. It made me want to wander, and it made me want to love. I was captivated from the very beginning, and I have wholly fallen in love with this book.

Wanderlove tells the story of an 18-year-old named Bria Sandoval, who is desperately looking to escape her life in California. She has always loved art, but after a disaster of a relationship with her jealous boyfriend comes to an end, Bria finds herself unable to do the one thing that brought her joy. In attempt to reclaim her art and find some independence, she spontaneously plans a trip to Central America with the Global Vagabonds. Unbeknownst to her, these Global Vagabonds are not the rugged, seasoned backpacking adventurers she thought they would be, but rather a group of older tourists sporting suitcases and sunscreen-white noses. When she comes across siblings Rowan and Starling, who just so happen to be backpacking veterans, she decides to live on the edge, ditch the group and her suitcase, and travel with them. Throughout their explorations and travels in the Central America, Bria learns more about herself, rediscovers her art, and finds love.

Hubbard has written an astonishingly beautiful story in Wanderlove. This book is so much more than a girl who finds love abroad, or a girl who matures and achieves self-actualization through her travels. Bria’s story made me feel so much, and there were honestly moments where I thought I was feeling too many feelings. The end of the story almost had me in tears!

As the main character, Bria was amazing. I understood her need to get away from the impasse at home and reclaim her love for art. I liked how when someone told her she could not do something, she was determined to prove to them, and even to herself, that she could. She is stubborn, and even a little snarky at times, but that is just who she is. It is almost scary how well I connected to her character. Her moments of wondering what the future holds for her resembled mine from a few years back.  I had similar doubts and concerns, enabling me to connect and relate with her, and I got really invested in her story. Rowan was also perfect in his own way. Looking to escape a past chocked full of wrongdoings, he lives by his self-made policy of wanderlove: live in the present, look to the future, and never look back or dwell on what has already come to pass. He is adventurous, confident, and just downright swoon-worthy. While his demeanor says he’s uncaring, he is actually extraordinarily kind, and he is always there for those he cares for. I feel like nothing I say does him justice! I just loved, loved, loved him.

The chemistry between Bria and Rowan was excellent! Their relationship starts out rather rocky, with Rowan being a rather unwilling tour guide and Bria being standoffish. It takes a while for them to start opening up to one another, and very slowly, their relationship builds into friendship and then something more. I really liked how their relationship progressed slowly, for it made their feelings for one another seem real. They both have trust issues resulting from past relationships, and it takes them some time to feel comfortable around each other. They are also a great balance for one another. Rowan helps Bria become more audacious and adventurous while Bria shows Rowan the benefits of trusting someone and never running from the past. They really complement one another, and I loved watching their relationship develop.

It would be wrong of me to not talk about Hubbard’s prose and extensive details. This book is packed full of beautiful descriptions, more than I have ever come across in any book, and it provided a nice touch to the story. An artist pays attention to the little things, such as people, clothing, and even lighting effects, and these details just helped define Bria’s character and her love for art. The descriptions were breathtaking, and they made me feel like I was in Central America myself, experiencing and seeing everything as Bria did. Hubbard definitely has a way with words, and I think she is an exceptional writer. 

Hubbard is also an extraordinary artist. There were a few of her drawings intermittently placed in the story, and each picture correlated to what Bria was drawing and/or feeling. These drawings added a nice touch to the story, and also helped bring out Bria’s love for art. I do not know much about art, but I thought the pictures Hubbard drew were AMAZING! I read the eBook on my computer, which was not the optimal way to view them, so I am looking forward to seeing how these pictures look in the ‘real.’

Overall, this book was one the best books I have read in 2012. It is a beautifully written story, set in some alluring areas in Central America, and you should not miss out on it. I have to say, this book really made we want to travel. I have never been backpacking before, nor really even cared to try, but I am rethinking that decision now. I really enjoyed this book, and I cannot wait to see what Hubbard has in store for us next!
The Greatest Escape!

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