Sunday, 23 September 2012

"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.

Ahhh this one was brilliant!
The story is about Bria, a high school graduate who is traveling to Central America on an organised tour, but then she meets backpacker half-siblings Rowan and Starling, and her journey really begins.
At first, I got the feeling that Bria was definitely trying to escape her past. She'd left behind best friends who she couldn't rely on, a very arrogant and jerky ex-boyfriend, and she'd given up her art, the one thing that she was passionate about. Bria's love for art was so clear and profound that I was ecstatic when she started drawing again. Kirsten Hubbard's drawings also added extra dimension to the novel, and it was clear that she is a talented artist herself.
The dynamic between Bria and Rowan was natural and flowed nicely, and their romantic relationship developed deliciously slowly. Rowan was the perfect travel companion - aware of the world around him, knowledgeable, and doesn't ask too many personal questions. He let Bria grow and appreciate her surroundings by herself, but was there when she needed him. It also didn't hurt that he was totally gorgeous ;-)
Bria was a great character: realistically flawed but also open to development. Her journal entries were entertaining, and I especially enjoyed her "Things Toby said that should have made me dump him instantly" list. I'd love to see more of her - maybe a sequel? :)
Kirsten Hubbard's writing was beautiful. Her prose was perfect, descriptive and colorful without losing the point. The way she described the most simple of things was gorgeous, and made everything feel so vivid and real. I'm used to reading sparse, hard-hitting language, which I appreciate and like, but this was a wonderful change from that. 
I really loved and enjoyed Wanderlove and I hope to read Like Mandarin (her previous novel) in the future, and anything else Kirsten Hubbard writes. Additionally, I might check out her as a travel writer; I think she could persuade me to go anywhere!

Rating: A+

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