Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard Review

Look, you guys, here's the truth: I read. A lot.

You know that; it says it in my header. But I read so much I have read enough books that I'm honestly probably set for reviews until mid-March. I've got a backlog, yo.

But I finished a book on Sunday morning that was SO GOOD I CANNOT WAIT A DAY LONGER TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT.

My heart is still racing thinking about it. Okay, here we go...

Wanderlove Kirsten Hubbard book coverWanderlove
By Kirsten Hubbard

March 13, 2012
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 352 pages
Source: Publisher, via NetGalley

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 into 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.

— description

I love road trip books. They are a literal journey, yes, but they also explore a character's journey in discovering something new about themselves. It's a lovely and thrilling structure that allows you to explore alongside the characters and watch how their discoveries slowly change them.

But after reading Wanderlove, I feel like I've found something even better -- travelogue books.

It's a road trip amplified when Bria sets off from her tour group in Guatemala and joins a pair of backpackers as they explore the road less traveled. As Bria lets go of her inhibitions, stumbles and soars, I felt like I was there with her -- 50-pound backpack on my back, bugs in my sheets, sand in my toes -- every step of the way.

And YES, that's exactly what a great book should do. By the end of Wanderlove, Bria was a different person and I, too, felt changed.

Watching how Bria sheds her sadness and fears, bit by bit, is INSPIRING. It makes me want to explore, to be in the moment, to see the world through new eyes. Bria loses her camera along the way and documents her story through beautiful drawings that are included in the book. It's a thrilling reminder that journeys should not be spent behind the lens of the camera -- they should be experiences with open eyes, in the moment.

It's a beautiful book with a beautiful lesson.

And, oh yeah, there's her travel companion, Rowan. My heart is still pounding. I leave it at that.

I could keep going on and on, like about how after we saw Kirsten Hubbard at BEA last year we could not stop talking about how gorgeous she is and how her description of how Bria feels when she sees Starling is exactly how I felt when I saw her (like how is she so effortlessly cool? and how do I get to be like that?) and how the cover is just a random girl but after you read the book you'll look back on it and be like "Oh my gosh that girl IS Bria" and on and on and on so let's end it here with the most important thing...

Click here to preorder Wanderlove!

Anna Reads young adult book blog


  1. I love road trip books as well. This one sounds amazing and I've been hearing nothing but great things about it. I'll definitely be picking up a copy when it comes out. Great review :)

  2. Hands down, BEST review you've written so far. I am in the middle of reading this book b/c of your enthusiasm & OMG I WANT TO GO FINISH READING IT RIGHT NOW. Thank you for literally pushing this book on to me. I have a feeling it will change me, too. These are seriously the best kinds of books.

    So when does our backpack adventure begin?!

  3. I got to read Wanderlove via NetGalley too. This one definitely sparks something inside of you. It makes you want to go out there and do stuff and change some things in your life. Love your review and hearing about your experience while reading it! :)

  4. Oooh, this sounds like exactly the kind of book I need right now! It also sounds like one my students would adore (my 8th graders more than my 6th graders). Great review!

  5. This sounds great! Your review made it sound even more beautiful! Will definitely have to read this! :)

  6. I absolutely LOVED Wanderlove. I had the opportunity to read it last year and I was seriously blown away. The book made me want to drop everything and leave for some exotic, foreign country in an instant. I hope to one day have an adventure just as meaningful and filled with self-discovery as Bria!

  7. This book hasn't really been on my radar, but after reading your review, it sounds like my kind of book. Thanks for adding to my TBR!!!

  8. love your blog, going to add this book to my must read list. you should check out my blog you never know you might like it.

  9. I saw this on NetGalley but didn't grab it because of my insane TBR pile. BUT, now after reading your review and our chats IRL I'm going to have to find a copy stat!

    PS - your love of this book REALLY comes through in your review :)

  10.'ve done it. I was really resisting adding this one to my TBR pile for some reason (despite being a big plan of journey books), but I agree that this was an excellent review and it's convinced me. I'm going in for some Wanderlove.

  11. This sounds amazing. I can't wait to read it!

  12. Well, THAT's an instant add to my TBR list! Though I'm worried that reading it will make me want to drop everything and go traveling....

  13. Since the amount of gushing in this review is about 20 bajillion times more than your others, I'm certain this one needs to make a home in my TBR :]

  14. GAH! This sounds awesome! Thanks so much for sharing. We really liked her first book and have been hoping this would be as good. Based on your awesome review, sounds like it might even be better!

  15. I keep seeing everyone talking about this book. About how good it is. I love self discovery books. At almost 32 I'm stil learning stuff about myself, and changing every day.

    This is a really great review, I can tell you truly loved this book. It's for sure going on my TR list. :)


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