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.
It all begins with a stupid question:
I just loved the storyline. The story is a mix of the present, past, and rules of traveling, which was so much fun to read. There were also these simply awesome drawings dispersed throughout the story. Wanderlove made me want to pack up and go travel today, and made me about 1000x more excited for my potential study abroad next spring. Wanderlove really takes the readers on a journey along with its characters. I loved all the places Rowan and Bria went throughout Central America, and all the experiences they had.
The characters were wonderful. I loved Bria. She had such a great story to tell. I loved that Bria had to courage to go try this trip, as I am not spontaneous and would have major anxiety over doing such a thing, but what Bria did is something I would just love to do. Rowan was just as complex as a character as Bria, with his own past that he is trying to escape. He was witty and quite charming. I feel like Hubbard just nailed both Rowan and Bria and the relationship that unfolds between the two.
This was a stunning sophomore novel from Kirsten Hubbard. It's one of those books that I will now be pressing into the hands of everyone I know. It had beautiful writing, an awesome plot, and characters to die for. I really just loved Wanderlove, and now I need to go pick up Hubbard's debut, Like Mandarin.
Wanderlove's main character, Bria, decides to go on a group tour of Guatemala when her boyfriend breaks her heart and derails their plans to attend art school together. As soon as she meets her group, full of unadventurous adults, she realizes she has made a mistake. A chance encounter with Starling and Rowan, effortlessly cool backpackers, leads to her ditching the group and learning what travel is really about. Along the way, she experiences romance, adventure, and self-acceptance.
Hubbard nails the backpacking lifestyle, from typical hostel antics to the posturing of 'trustafarians'--kids using their trust funds to support their bohemian lifestyle. I loved the characterization of Bria, someone who is aware that the dreadlocks, toe rings, and flowy clothes are costumes, but is still desperate to give them a try. Her excitement and self-consciousness make me remember why I loved leading students on trips; everything is thrilling and every day holds myriad possibilities.
The novel held some surprises for me: plot twists that I didn't see coming and predictions that fell flat. Between this and Like Mandarin, I am officially a massive Kirsten Hubbard fan. Since the book is written as artistic Bria's travel diary, it is full of sketches that Hubbard drew. Where was I the day they were handing out talent? Get this book and be inspired to strap on a backpack and hit the road.
Great characterization and a beautiful writing style.
Will make readers want to travel!
Eighteen-year-old Bria comes across a travel guide and wonders what it would be like to be a Global Vagabond and travel on a guided tour of a foreign place. She’d just broken up with her boyfriend and also with one of her real loves of her life, her art. What she finds though is that she’d signed up to be with a group of middle aged tourists who keep it ‘safe’ on their tour. This is something she doesn’t want. Then she meets Rowan, a reformed bad boy and his half-sister Starling, who are everything she wants to be: independent and not afraid to go outside their comfort zone. She joins up with them and finds a side to herself she never knew she had.
I totally loved the voice of this novel. Bria reminded me of myself when I was younger, afraid to venture outside of her comfort zone but longing to do so. When she does take that first scary step, we find a piece of her armor stripped away, revealing the hidden butterfly inside. Like a butterfly at times she soars with her new found freedom. We see the one side of Central America that isn’t shown in the glossy travel guides with the realistic hotels and companions. But we also see the more human side as well.
Rowan is also somewhat of a mystery at the beginning but little by little he starts to warm up to Bria. In fact he goes on his own journey. I loved his analogy of his father to the 1969 movie with Dennis Hopper. His father also chased after work and ran away from his one night stands. Rowan hated this and vowed he’d never be the same. But in fact he was like his father. His second travel rule stated: The best way to escape the past is to keep moving forward.
Lush writing with an amazing voice, I fell in love with this story. The dialogue is at times humorous but also heartfelt. The illustrations add to the charm of this book. Bria’s own hero’s journey goes through trials like when Starling ‘leaves’ her with Rowan in the middle of Central America to whether or not she should trust Rowan.
This novel is filled with awesomeness and with characters that breathe a breath of life into a contemporary novel that makes you want to go on your own journey.
2. I fell in love with this story
3. Great visuals, descriptions
4. Yummy main character Rowan
It usually doesn't take me this long to finish a book but I struggled through the first half. I really wanted to love it because so many people are enchanted with Wanderlove. Don't get me wrong,I enjoyed reading about all of these different places so much I actually consider about boarding a train through the whole Europe next year. I know this is not the same thing but I am too much of a chicken to actually go backpacking even though I know some people who say it's perfectly save if you do your research well.
Bria is a likable character. She is an artist who lost the faith in her skills because of her jealous (ex)boyfriend. Bria is no different than any other teenager-she doubts in the things is she good at and feels like no one understands what she is going through. It is easy to relate to her. She seemed more real reading about her interaction with Rowan.
Rowan was a bad boy and now he is running from his past. But so is Bria. And that is the reason they are perfect for each other.
Favorite quote: I need to stop blaming them(parents)for not asking the right questions when I could have volunteered the answers at any time.
It was like she was talking about me.
This book truly was inspiring and made me want to go on an adventure just like Bria.
Kirsten Hubbard’s sophomore novel follows the Central American adventures of Bria, a recent high school grad who’s on a mission to prove herself…to herself (and maybe to her ex, but she’s not thinking about him, no sirree). In Guatemala, Bria hooks up with Starling and Rowan, two backpacking vagabonds who live the kind of life Bria desperately wants—confident and carefree. Over the next two weeks, Bria breaks out of her shell, puts her past behind her, and experiences new and great things.
In the worst light, Wanderlove looks like a cheesy, dramatic novel of a middle-class white girl’s self-discovery in somewhat unrealistic but oh-so-charming circumstances. In the best light, Wanderlove looks like a sweet and fun story of a teen artist’s identity crisis and eventual arrival at understanding and acceptance. In the most objective light, Wanderlove is both those things—it is a bit melodramatic, it is a bit cheesy, it’s also about a girl who has problems that need to be solved, and it’s about people who are relatable and fun to read about, in spite of their glamorous waif-of-the-world personas.
Bria, the main character, is certainly not my favorite female protagonist ever, but I enjoyed reading about her and I think she was well-rounded and realistic. A lot of times, I get annoyed with books about artists/musicians because it’s difficult to express music or drawing through words on a page. But Wanderlove included some really cute doodles that Bria “drew” during her trek through the jungle, and I thought they added a nice touch, and really helped me connect better with Bria.
The plot was, more or less, one long road trip with some hefty character development thrown in. I definitely liked that Hubbard took this book on location, as it were, the way we experienced the scenery through Bria’s eyes as first-timers was great. I do have a complaint to make in regards to plot, however. Rowan, Bria’s friend, has this deep dark secret that he carries around with him for two-thirds of the book. Hubbard kept building suspense and building suspense until reader expectation was so high that, when the reveal came during a pivotal scene, I could only roll my eyes and say “oh, is that all?” That, of course, definitely clashed with Bria’s reaction, because she freaked out and made phone calls and OMG, disaster waiting to happen. Sometimes, suspense really isn’t the best plot technique, and this is one of those cases.
Wanderlove was mayhap a little cheesy in the ending as well, but I guess I was expecting it to a certain degree. I think it fit, and I liked that it was not a nailed-down Happily Ever After with all loose strings tied up—that would have been a little too unrealistic for me. I definitely thought that it was nice to see Bria come into her own and learn more about herself and what it means to be proactive.
Altogether, Wanderlove had a teensy bit too much cheese for my taste, but it was still a solid read in spite of its fluffy outer coating. Kirsten Hubbard wrote a unique and fun story set in a never before seen location, and managed to pull off a compelling story at the same time.
I think to a lot of people, reading is a chore – it’s something you have to do to graduate high school, get your diploma, suffer through college, and eventually use in life. I think to others, reading is a form of entertainment – a funny comedy to give them a good laugh, a serious biography to inform them about a subject they didn’t know, an intriguing encyclopedia filled with facts they could not have found out about any other way. However, I think if you ask any true bibliophile, like myself, we’ll say that yes, reading is an escape into another world – one that isn’t our own; yes, reading textbooks and badly written novels can be a chore; yes, all of that which other readers feel, think, and experience is true. Yet, to us, reading is about connecting with characters, about finding kindred spirits in words and phrases, about learning the lessons life can teach us, and most importantly, about finding small bits and pieces of our souls within the pages of the novels we read like starved children.
Wanderlove is the type of book that makes me so grateful I am a reader. It’s the sort of story that sucks you in, pulls on the strings in your heart, and makes you find yourself within its pages. It makes you connect to its characters, marvel at its exotic setting, learn from its valuable lessons, and most importantly, it makes you feel one with the very soul of the novel itself. I can count on one hand the number of books that have made me feel this way, but perhaps now, I will need two.
Wanderlove is unlike any contemporary romance I’ve read before and frankly speaking, all I feel like doing right now is taking the next flight to Guatemala and re-reading this book the entire plane ride there. I don’t think I can put into words just how much I loved this story, how much it affected me, and how badly I wish I could lose myself in its pages forever. In many ways, I wish this book wasn’t marketed as a contemporary romance novel, because although its love story is earth-shatteringly sweet and slow-to-build in a way wholly unique, this is primarily a novel about moving on from the past, understanding it, and not letting it get in the way of your future.
Eighteen-year-old Bria Sandoval is an artist who has forgotten how to make art. Ever since her break-up with her artistic boyfriend Toby, Bria has been lost, alone, and artless. Her parents are too busy fighting their own wars with each other, her best friends are too tired of her constant moping, choosing instead to give her unhelpful advice and ditch her on their plans to spend the summer in Europe, and all in all, Bria simply needs to get away. Thus, she finds herself sporadically signing up for a trip to Central America on a guided tour through “Global Vagabond.” What she finds upon landing in Guatemala though, is a rag-tag group of middle-age tourists. Bria wants to be a backpacker, exploring the true wilderness and culture of Central America, so when experienced backpacker half-siblings Starling and Rowan offer her a chance to accompany them, she cannot resist. Yet, backpacking through Central America is not as easy as it seems and soon, Bria finds that her honesty, trust, and confidence are all put to the test as she must learn to understand – and forgive – her past and make the most of what today has to offer.
In a very loose manner, Wanderlove is much like many other contemporary novels which seek to expose a journey of life through a road-trip or exploration of a foreign country. Yet, what makes Wanderlove stand out from this plethora of travelling stories is its unique, alluring, and refreshing voice. Bria is one of the few protagonists whose voice I can claim to truly admire and relate to. The narration of her story is honest, humorous, and intelligent, filled with beautiful sketches, memorable diary entries, and quirky lists which are all done to a minimum and only used to further develop Bria’s tale.
One of my favorite aspects of Hubbard’s writing is the fact that Bria’s story unfolds slowly, gently, and in bits and pieces. As the novel progresses, we come to realize the true extent of Bria’s hurt and pain and just what she must do to overcome that. Furthermore, Bria is filled to the brim with flaws – she is petulant, she is afraid, she seems to change her moods at whim, she cannot understand her own feelings, and most of all, she can’t seem to let go of her past. Yet, all these qualities make her a remarkable, respectable, and realistic protagonist. In addition, Bria’s growth throughout the novel is gradual, not only as a person, but also as an artist. I think the most beautiful part of this entire story was seeing Bria find ways to re-connect with her art, her lifeline, her passion. Overall, Bria’s journey is one that is rewarding, fully developed, and not without its flaws, yet it manages to be perfect all the same.
Speaking of perfection, there was little to be found of it within the cast of these characters. Starling and Rowan are an enigmatic and startling duo with their own set of ideals, philosophies, and their own burdens in life. I don’t think I can even begin to brush upon the extent of pain that Rowan carries in his life. Here is a male protagonist who has had a tortured past, who has attempted to move on past it in one of the worst ways, and who is now on the road to redemption. Even before Rowan meets Bria, he has resolved to change the “bad boy” attitude that somehow got him through the past two years of his life. The unraveling of Rowan’s past is one of the greatest mysteries in this book and while it takes its own sweet time and the eventual revelation is startling and shockingly ugly, it only increases the reader’s respect for Rowan and how far he has come as a person. It isn’t an easy task to move on or change your outlook on life and more than that, it isn’t easy to forget the past. Rowan, despite his theories of “wanderlove” and his own unique elements to living life, doesn’t have it all figured out.
Wanderlove isn’t simply Bria’s journey, it is Rowan’s journey too. Although the two of them find much of themselves within each other, they find it alone and by themselves as well. I think it was important how Hubbard made these two develop their relationship from strangers, reluctant acquaintances, and easy friends to something that was even more deep and special. Yet, throughout all this, they manage to retain their independence and their sense of self, all while giving into their confounded feelings for one another. Wanderlove contains within its pages one of the slowest developing love stories of all time, but I loved every minute of it. It was perfect in its own way and I found myself in awe of its beautiful ending which seemed to resolve everything, yet leave even more up for interpretation, imagination, and creativity.
In conclusion, Wanderlove is a story that will stick with me for a long time. Not only is it original in its journey to Central America, but the passion of the author and her own obvious experiences bleed through every page, making this a journey you cannot forget. Furthermore, what I find is more important than the bittersweet love story or the heart-warming characters are the themes and messages that emerge from this story. There aren’t many books that leave you with a feeling that you’ve learned more about life from simply reading them, but Wanderlove does. Not only do I feel more wiser, more spontaneous, and more in love with this story than when I first began this review, I also feel a strange sense of cathartic release. I can only hope that other readers will fall in love with this story as I did and find their own antidotes to wanderlove in the world.
You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.