Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Buy (pre-order): Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Caution: May contain spoilers
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.
~synopsis from Goodreads
When I read the synopsis I was thinking, “Oh, this will be a cute story,” not really giving much thought to there being a deeper meaning or feeling obtained from reading it. After the first few chapters I was thinking, “This is okay, I’m sure I’ll like it,” not expecting it to be super special or anything substantial. It wasn’t until a few more chapters in that thought, “I love this!” and realized the following: I want my life to reflect the outlook of this story’s true meaning.
Bria Sandoval, straight out of high school and straight out of a relationship turned sour, goes on vacation in Central America. She was supposed to go on a trip with her boyfriend, Toby, then when that ended, her two friends Olivia and Reese. But they backed out too. So she goes with a travel group. A few days into this completely planned trip, she opts to choose the road less traveled with newfound friends Starling and Rowan. The whole travel aspect in general, whether it’s with some lame group that does all the safe touristy things or of the true backpacker style, it sounds so nice. It makes me want to just quit my job and pack a suitcase and start driving with no destination. It has this whole scary yet exhilarating feeling that lifts you up and loosens your personal inhibitions about what normal is supposed to be.
Bria draws. Or at least she used to. Until the breakup. Toby was an artist who helped her along to grow in her drawing skills. After they were over, she stopped. When the trip starts, she has that aching, itching feeling to want to draw again. I get that. I’m always getting that feeling when it comes to artistic anything.
Starling has to go suddenly for work, which leaves Rowan and Bria by themselves. Bria is in her own world, slowly facing the cold hard facts of what the relationship with her ex has done to her. You know how they say “hindsight is 20/20”? I have a new term. It’s called Breakup Vision. When you can see how dumb you were and how dumb your ex was. It's while off the beaten path, experiencing life, enjoying herself everything comes full circle and Bria has to figure out what she wants for her future. Not what everyone wants of her.
I think you can tell that I really loved this book. Kirsten Hubbard is a traveler herself, and you can tell. She knows so much about these places, and she knows how to express it in a way that you feel like you’re there. And if you’ve never been there, you want to GO there. There were drawings included on the pages, all of which were awesomeness, and drawn by Hubbard herself. There were also lists and notes here and there between the narration and dialogue, which were a nice touch. Rowan is irritatingly likeable. That sounds bad, but it’s not. The journey, literal and figurative, is eye-opening for not only Bria, but the reader. It really gets you to think about yourself and what you want out of life. Favorite phrase used in the book: "Perpetual anticipation." Wanderlove is definitely a book I’ll be buying the instant it is available.
Exceptional: Stay up until at least 1 AM