Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

"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."

Title: Wanderlove
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Release Date: March 13th, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 338, Hardcover (Read: eARC, and Hardcover)

"I've got an emergency plan. If the hammock breaks, I'll just roll on top of you, so you can break my fall." -Wanderlove, pg. 126

I was extremely excited to start Wanderlove when I got the approval from Netgalley. I must say, I have a (sort of) love-hate relationship with this book, but more love than hate. Some areas in the book just fell flat. On the contrary, others were oh-so-amazingly-beautiful.

First, the plot. The plot was the biggest--and only--problem for me. The reader is introduced to Bria Sandoval, a former artist that isn't so much an artist anymore, because of her ex-boyfriend, Toby. Bria signs up for a guided tour trip of Central America, desperate to start fresh as an independent girl. But the trip turns out to be something she didn't expect. Instead of staying with the group, she runs off with Starling & Rowan, off to a more indirect backpacking trip. From there, the story takes off.

The whole beginning and up until 3/4 of the way through, I wasn't captivated. I was getting quite worried, since I had heard SO MANY AMAZING things about it. I was all, "Is there something wrong with me? WHAT AM I MISSING HERE." Don't get me wrong, the writing was beautiful (AND THE DRAWINGS, you can't forget about the drawings, ugh, gorgeous), but the story line about them going to different places was just kind of… boring me to death. Is anything going to happen? Like, hello? It wasn't until the ending that it got really kind of fantastic and breathtaking.

The character development was phenomenal. Starling, I wish there was more of Starling. She was fun and perky and kept Bria alive. Rowan, oh dear Rowan. I love you. He was the perfect bad boy. But the good bad boy. If that made any sense.

Bria, she was something special. At first I was a little hesitant about whether or not I liked her. As I read further into the story, I learned more and more about her. The more I read, the more I liked Bria. Her perspective does change and she loosens up as she spends more time with Rowan. I really loved her growth.

After finishing the book, I just sat there for a second, thinking. I could tell that Kirsten Hubbard spent a generous amount of time creating the characters and really developing a message that everyone can learn from. Her writing was insightful and thought-provoking, which I think is why I loved this book so much.

Wanderlove is truly beautiful. Sure, the storyline was a little slow in the beginning to middle, but the writing, characters, and illustrations definitely made up for it. My note to you: if it happens to be slow for you too, don't give up on it. You won't regret continuing. Because I certainly didn't.

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