Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard


In a sentence or so: Bria travels to Central America to prove to everyone she’s a Global Vagabond. Many new experiences, new friends, hilarity and self-discovery ensue.

Bria signed up for what she thought was going to be an exotic adventure with beautiful teenagers like her. She was stoked to prove to her two besties and her ex-boyfriend Toby that she was up for anything, even if they all chickened out. When she arrives in Guatemala City, however, she is greeted by a middle age troupe of incredibly cliché travelers. Not exactly what Bria had in mind. Luckily for her, in no time she is swept up into an unlikely backpacking trio with Starling and her brother Rowan. They assure Bria they will show her Guatemala City and the surrounding areas as it was meant to be seen, which is pretty rad.

While the core of the plot is about traveling around Central America and discovering new things, we keep coming back to Bria and why she’s there in the first place. Bria’s background with Toby, her parents, her best friends and herself slowly come into focus throughout the read. I loved learning more about where she came from to learn more about where she was going.

It’s no joke that I LOVE YA because of the self-discovery and coming of age themes that are so often present in the books. Wanderlove is a stellar example of why YA is incredible to read about and experience.

Because the thing is, I was Bria. Bria was me. I didn’t travel to Central America, but her struggles of feeling good enough without constant validation, her giving up parts of herself for a boy who is NOT WORTH IT, getting in her own way so much of the time, and finally – FINALLY – the realization that she is a good person who deserves to be happy – all resonated so deeply with me.

Yes, Wanderlove is a travel adventure book. Yes, Wanderlove is an adorable romance. Yes, Bria is hilarious and awesome and you love her from the beginning. But what I loved most about Wanderlove was Bria’s journey of self-acceptance and admitting her own mistakes and forgiving herself. It cut my heart so deeply to hear an experience so like my own through her voice. And ultimately, it made my heart swell to see her happy and awesome and brilliant by the end.

Fave Quote: "I'll have won. This time, for always. But it's never going to happen unless I close my eyes and jump." (151)

Fix er up: I would have liked to see more of Starling. I was quickly attached to her, even as a secondary character. Her complete acceptance of Bria – no questions asked – was inspiring. LOVE.

Title: Wanderlove 
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Genre: Contemporary
Publishing Info: 2012, Delacorte Press

[FTC Notice: I own a copy of this book, thanks to the raddest chick I know, Tara at Hobbitsies. WHAT UP, TARA. Thanks again, dude.] 

I read this book as part of the YA Highway Bookmobile. I am SO glad I did. 

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

21 comments:

  1. "I didn’t travel to Central America, but her struggles of feeling good enough without constant validation, her giving up parts of herself for a boy who is NOT WORTH IT" This. So much this. I hate that so many girls go through this, I know I did as well and it sucks, that need for constant validation.

    I like that Hubbard wrote a book that shows you can get past that, you can learn to love yourself. And I think that is the best part of the book, Bria's growth into self-acceptance.

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    1. ABSOLUTELY. Like I love the traveling pieces of it, but Bria's personal journey just resonated SO deeply with me. I can't even.

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  2. I'm gonna agree with April up there (Helllooo April!). I feel like most women sadly go through this, giving up themselves for a boy/man who just isn't worth it and feeling like they are worth anything because of that boy/man, and it takes time for all of us to realize our mistakes.

    I went through the same thing as you while reading this, feeling a sense of connection to Bria and her struggles with her past. I didn't leave the country, but I know I had several moments of fleeing from things like Bria did - whether it was fleeing from college or a job - only to realize I needed to accept myself for who I am, minus the boy.

    Fantastic review, Lisa!

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    1. I feel like it's something so many of us struggle with at one point or another, so reading about it within a plot that was AWESOME and wonderful and all of the things.

      You put it well, Candice, that we just need to accept ourselves WITHOUT the boy in the picture!

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  3. I'm so glad you liked this book! I really, really enjoyed it too! I liked that Rowan and Bria both had so, so many things to figure out. Their relationship was complicated and had issues, but I liked the maturity that evoked. :)

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  4. This book resonated deeply with me, too. I loved that even though we were taken to central america - experiencing rough terrain & breath-taking views, it still focused on Bria and her own self discovery. I love when books reach right inside your heart & squeeze so tight. LOVE.

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    1. Those are the very best kinds of books.

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  5. Every time I see this book I want to hug it. Like the creep that I am.

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  6. That's one of my favorite aspects about YA, too-- not just love triangles and trends, but that theme of self-discovery and growth. Every single review I've seen of this book (even on goodreads!) has been so overwhelmingly positive; this is going on my must-read list NOW.

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  7. Your review made me very excited to read this book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  8. I always like personal reviews and knowing that a reader connected with a character in such an intimate way. (Truthfully, this happens to me way more than I should admit.) I have this book on my bookcase, I bought it on its release day, and I'm going to try to wait until June to read it when I go on vacation. I figure the travel vibe will make it work well. haha. Great review!

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    1. No matter when you read it, you will enjoy it greatly!

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  9. It's books like this that make reading YA so fantastic, right? I can't tell you how many times I read a book and am like, "WHY was this not written when I could have learned from it in REAL TIME?!?" All these years removed from being an actual young adult and I'm still learning that I wasn't alone with my problems, and it retroactively makes me feel better and less like a person with crazy weird issues.
    I love that Bria spoke so loudly to you. I think she did that for lots of people, and that's what makes her, and this book, so awesome. MWAH!

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    1. Totally agree with the retroactve understanding!

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  10. I have this one and haven't read it yet. But I'm seeing more and more people reading it and I'm feeling like I need to HURRY UP. It reminds me of one of my favorite movies, The Art of Travel. Which I'm saying to everyone that reads this book...

    YAY for a great experience while reading. YAY for a book that resonates. I'm learning about this with the contemps. (Fun fact: I just finished my #10 for the year about an hour ago. I challenged myself to 12 for 2012. GO ME.)

    Also, TARA is the BOMB.COM. Such a generous chica, that girl. She just wants to spread the book love everyday and that is so awesome. Swells my heart, it does.

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    1. I was kind of on a contemporary binge! It made my heart very happy and very raw at the same time. DARN THOSE. And love those.

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  11. I read just over a quarter of this last year but I couldn't get into it - I'm glad you did!

    ComaCalm's Corner

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  12. Sigh. LOVED this book so. And just like you, I totally related to Bria, totally felt like she was me TOO. I think this book has that effect on a lot people:)

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  13. I agree with April! I haven't read this book yet, but I can't wait to, and I'm glad to see that Bria realizes she shouldn't have to give up who she is for a guy. As April said, I think a lot of us have been there, done that--I certainly have.

    Loved the review. I can't wait to read Wanderlove, especially since I'm in a contemporary mood right now.

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    1. If you're feeling the contemps, GO FOR IT.

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  14. You're making me want to go grab this book off my shelf right now! My library due dates say that's a bad idea, though...

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