Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Kirsten Hubbard
YA Contemporary
Published: May 2012

Image: Goodreads
Does a book ever excite you so much that by page 2 you start making a list of everyone you want to share it with? For me, Wanderlove is that book. The voice practically leaped from the pages and sucked me in. This is a great read to wind down the end of summer.

Bria just graduated from high school and booked a trip to explore Guatemala with a tour group. She intends to get over her ex-boyfriend Toby and create new and empowering experiences for herself. The trouble is, Bria gets in her own way. She's pretty down about herself early on, having struggled with what is slowly revealed to have been an emotionally abusive relationship with Toby. She gives up her art, and the idea of art school, when Toby's competitive nature essentially shames her into taking a backseat to him, and she no longer feels she has her own identity. Her parents don't understand her, and her two best friends think she's using her trip to escape rather than to deal with life.

But Wanderlove isn't all gloomy introspection. Bria is an optimistic, life-loving girl, who just needs to find herself. She discovers her tour group is more in tune with the over-50 crowd which makes her feel like even more of an outcast, and she longs for a more spontaneous, culture-invasive experience among the vagabond backpackers she sees in the first days of her trip.

Bria meets brother and sister duo Starling and Rowan who have been travelling through Central and South America for several years. She ditches her tour group, ready to soak up the backpacker experience. Along the way, she tentatively sketches, although she's afraid to embrace her artistic inclinations because of the hurt she experienced with Toby. Starling and Rowan take her to remote small islands and bustling hostels. As much as she enjoys traveling with them, both are secretive, especially Rowan. He mentions a troubled past, but makes Bria promise not to ask, and in return, he won't ask what she's really running from.

I loved how Bria's personal journey matched so well with her travels. The book even features sketches from Bria's book, drawn by the author. This is an example of how great YA literature can be -- it's fun, but intimate. The writing is top notch, and the characters are so likeable, even though they struggle with liking themselves. I highly recommend Wanderlove to any fans of YA, travel and self discovery.


  1. What a great review! I'm looking this one up on Goodreads. Thanks!

  2. I read Wanderlove earlier this summer and really enjoyed it. My only complaint was that that Bria's aversion to water felt forced to me, I also felt that in bits it sounded like a lot more had happened with her ex, but that the author loss her nerve and shied away from the subject. All in all it was a lovely read.

  3. Hi Steph
    Thanks for visiting when i grow up i wanna write a kids book blog.

    I love the premise of your book, I would love to read it when its published. Best of luck, cheers Julie

  4. Good point, Jess. I thought the relationship w/ Bria's ex would be more volatile than it was, it hinted at more extreme abuse, although it sounds like the emotional abuse rattled her.

  5. OMG, just finished the book, and I loved it, too! I agree with Jess about the fear of water thing being a little anticlimactic, but holy crap, I HATED Toby so, so, so much. He is probably my very least favorite ex-boyfriend in any book I've ever read. My fists clench every time I think about him. ;)

  6. I want to read the book, but I still haven't read Like Mandarin, which I bought when it first came out. I refuse to get Wanderlove until I do. Sounds like I need to get my butt in gear over that.

  7. I loved this book! The prose was beautiful, and I loved the way the author wove emotional journey with physical travels. Such a great read.

  8. Great review. Marking it down on my TBR list now :)

  9. Reading your review felt almost like reading the book - terrific! Going to pick this up for my niece. Always looking for good reads that'll make her forget her video games (for awhile, anyway). Thanx!

  10. I read her first book, and her writing is excellent, but this book sounds even more appealing than the first! can't believe this is the first review I've come across.


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