Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Scource: ARC from Changing Hands bookstore
Genres: YA realistic fiction, travel, romance, adventure
Summary: 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.
I could tell this was my kind of book as soon as I read the summary. Backpacking in Central America? Totally up my alley, considering I actually want to DO that some day! Add some odd friends and interesting situations and there you have Wanderlove.
What stood out the most: It's immediately obvious Kirsten Hubbard knows what she's talking about. From every detail about traveling (locals not accepting slightly ripped tender), to every single muscle's scientific name (gastrocnemius! I knew that one), I don't think it's research that makes it so detailed. It's personal experience! She is passionate about what she is writing, and it shows. I can't really vouch for lots of authors who do that! So, kudos for her.
(Okay, side note...Relating to this topic, I have a scene in my novel where my protag goes for a morning jog on the track of a cruise ship. So, on my next cruise, on the last morning onboard, (not procrastinating at all...) I got up at the crack of dawn...! Which happened to be about 7:15am, if I were to be honest here...and changed into my workout clothes. The track was deserted and the pink morning shone through my eyes still half closed with crustiness. I made it a whole half mile or so. My dad tagged along with his camera, making sure to get my under slept expression of annoyance. And after that, I fell back asleep for three more hours. Novel research! It's a critical part of production. Though, I realized later on, that my protag is an absolute morning person.)
Back to the review.
My advanced copies usually have a page in the front with some marketing info like author name, publication date....and also, this time, 'illustrator'. That surprised me, because I was thinking...on the chapter title pages or something? But it quickly became obvious that Bria, our heroine, is an artist, and this book was like her journal (but not written in journaling style). So she doodled every now and then alongside the words. I personally think it was really good. (I am easily impressed with anyone who can draw.) So as you're reading, its fun to turn the page to a map of the area she is at, or even a butterfly. (The most prominent motif of Wanderlove.)
The writing style was catchy. That's the weird word I choose to use. It's fast paced and funny, but not in a loud way, just sweetly subtle. Contradicting much?
I was also happy this 'contemporary teen novel' did not take place at a high school. With all that drama crap. Because really, that's half the reason I avoid this genre in the first place! More kudos for setting the book in Central America, and writing no completely awful/shallow characters.
5 stars. But that rating makes me want to go back and lower a few ratings on other books. Ones that I put five stars, but are nothing compared to this one.
Well, that's all the craziness I can type for now, because I am SUPER EXCITED to start reading BITTERBLUE! My life rocks right now. That review will probably be up next. But i might drag out finishing it as long as possible, because once I'm done reading it...well, I won't know what to do! ;) I'll need to get addicted to another brilliant feministic fantasy series soon.