Wanderlove

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Overview

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists are hardly the key to self-rediscovery.

So when Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspoken sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and ...

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Overview

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists are hardly the key to self-rediscovery.

So when Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspoken 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 through Mayan villages and remote Belizean islands, they discover they're both seeking to leave behind the old versions of themselves. The secret to escaping the past, Rowan's found, is to keep moving forward. But Bria realizes she can't run forever. At some point, you have to look back.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Alissa Lauzon
Recovering from a devastating breakup and unable to find any artistic inspiration, eighteen-year-old Bria has given up on her dreams of attending art school and finds herself completely lost. Bria is desperate to shake up her life and reinvent herself through adventure, meaningless hookups, and an escape from the routine of her life. The Global Vagabond brochure seems like the perfect answer—until Bria lands in Central America with a group of middle-aged tourists. She longs to be like the free-spirited backpackers she saw at the airport, and when she runs into them again, Rowan and Starling provide her the opportunity to ditch her group and experience the adventure she craves. Bria quickly discovers, however, that her travel companions are also working through issues of their own. Hubbard is clearly drawing on personal experience as she so authentically captures the travel experience. The story, however, is not just a travelogue. It is a story of healing and growth. Hubbard has crafted delightfully complex characters who are fresh and realistic. She gets readers right into Bria's awkward, insecure, uncertain skin. Hubbard's sketches add depth to Bria's character and give a wonderful visual representation of the story. Rowan is full of the self-confidence that comes from being young, knowing you are good looking, and feeling invincible, and readers cannot help but see his charms. The plot is slow at times, due to the introspective and travel-heavy nature of the narrative. The romance between Bria and Rowan is constantly on a slow burn, leaving readers wondering until the end—will they or won't they end up together? Reviewer: Alissa Lauzon
Publishers Weekly
Hubbard’s second novel, following Like Mandarin, is rich with the unexpected joys and tribulations of new experiences. When 18-year-old Bria Sandoval is dumped, her art school plans fall through, and her two best friends renege on their summer travel plans, Bria signs up for a “Global Vagabond” tour in Central America. Upon arriving in Guatemala, she is disappointed by the tame, touristy group, and when a handsome stranger named Rowan and his half-sister, Starling, invite her to travel with them, she jumps at the opportunity. From Guatemala, Rowan and Bria make their way to a Belizean island where they stay in hostels, get on each other’s nerves, and skirt conversations about their pasts: both are angry at themselves and focused on changing themselves. The sincerity of Bria’s narration is balanced by a healthy dose of sarcasm, and her journaling and delicate, skillful pencil drawings contribute to the novel’s strong sense of place. Bria’s charged relationship with Rowan and the vast emotional and physical territory Hubbard covers make for an evocative and romantic read. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Bria Sandoval is a gifted 18-year-old who lives in Los Angeles. She has abandoned her art on the heels of a destructive relationship with egotistical Toby, with whom she competed for a coveted art-school placement and won. As therapy for her broken heart and disillusioned psyche, Bria signs up for a trip to Central America with the Global Vagabonds. When her fellow travelers turn out to be middle-aged, Bria impulsively goes off with two backpacker teens she meets in Guatemala. She is left alone with secretive and troubled Rowan when his sister leaves unexpectedly, and her journey of self-discovery and emotional recovery begins. Neither goody-goody (one goal of her trip is to have an utterly meaningless sexual relationship) nor bad girl, Bria is a strong, principled young woman. A very good, very accessible novel.—Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME
Kirkus Reviews
A tale of self-discovery slowly unfolds in this novel about a talented artist who falls for her travel companion as she backpacks in Central America. Eighteen-year-old Bria defiantly embarks on a post–high-school graduation trip, quickly abandoning the tour group full of squares she's with and uneasily throwing her lot in with globetrotter Starling and her surly, yet intriguing brother, Rowan. Bria and Rowan eventually wind up on their own, both guarding their secrets mightily from the other. Bria is distinctive--embarrassed that she let her dreams of art school be sabotaged by a former boyfriend and self-conscious about appearing to be a naïve traveler, but also often tough and assertive. While these seemingly incongruous qualities make for interesting reading, her internal voice sometimes seems to clash with her dry, almost tartly down-to-earth outward persona, as when she thinks, "Tonight, I am the bohemian beach fairy of my fantasies." Rowan, who is attempting to leave behind a sordid past that includes drug use and smuggling, is similarly complex. If the pacing drags at times, there are also some thrillingly romantic, smart and funny moments. Pencil drawings by the author embellish appealingly. A thoughtful and meandering travel narrative, this will find an audience among readers willing to take the time to get to know characters whose motives they might not always understand. (Fiction. 13 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385907859
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/13/2012
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: Library Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

As a travel writer and young adult author, KIRSTEN HUBBARD has hiked ancient ruins in Cambodia, dived with wild dolphins in Belize, and navigated the Wyoming Badlands in search of transcendent backdrops. She lives with her husband and their dog.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

1

Day 1

Arrival

Travel companions

Overpriced organic fruit & nut bar from airport terminal
Ergonomic travel pillow
Phone with astronomical roaming charges
Sketchbook (knockoff Moleskine)
Assortment of pens and pencils

Left behind

Old version of myself

As soon as I see the blond girl bouncing down the aisle, I know she's heading for the empty seat beside me. It's just my luck. A woman in a floppy hat already fills the window seat. After three minutes of laboring at a sudoku puzzle, she starts to snore--even though our plane's still at the gate of LAX.

The girl tosses herself into the seat with a gusty sigh that practically rattles the double-plated windows. She's wearing a stretched-out sweater and drawstring pants, her dark blond hair in a sloppy pile on top of her head. Her fingers are covered with wooden rings.

I'm wearing quick-dry khaki capris, a crispy Windbreaker, and hiking shoes that make my feet feel like Clydesdale hooves. They're brand-new. Like my too-short haircut and my purple suitcase, along with everything in it.

I'm pretty sure the woman in the window seat is wearing a tent.

"So where you headed?" the girl asks, wedging her skinny knees against the seat in front of her. I shut my sketchbook and slip it between my legs.

"Guatemala," I reply, "same as you."

"Well, obviously. But where in Guatemala, exactly?"

"All over the place."

"Where first?"

I grasp for a name and come up with nothing. I never read the itinerary for my Global Vagabonds group tour. "I don't really travel with a set plan. It's too restricting."

She raises her eyebrows. "Is that right?"

Once I start, I can't stop. "I've found it's the best way to travel. Heading to whatever place intrigues me, you know? If I feel like sunbathing, I go to the beach. If I'm hungry for culture, I hike a Mayan ruin. I'm a photographer, really."

What I am is full of shit. My mom gave me the camera for my birthday last month, with a warning not to tell my dad. Just like the stack of art books my dad slipped me last year, when I was preparing my portfolio for the art school I'm not attending. I think their secret presents make them feel like they're each gleefully undermining the other in their endless uncivil war. At least I get consolation prizes.

"You're a photographer?" The girl's blue eyes widen. "How old are you?"

"Eighteen."

"You must be really talented."

It's the really that gets me. She doesn't believe me. And why should she? It's not like I look particularly well traveled. Or talented. Whatever that looks like. My Windbreaker makes crunching noises as I shift away. I should have brought a better jacket, something funky and artsy. But even in the days I considered myself an artist, I never had the guts to dress the part.

Plus, the Windbreaker was on my Global Vagabonds Packing List:

1) photocopy of passport

2) under-clothes money belt

3) crispy Windbreaker the color of gutter water

And like always, I followed the rules.

Just when I'm about to implode with embarrassment, the woman in the window seat taps my shoulder. "I couldn't help overhearing," she says. "I'm traveling in a big group. I could never travel like you do. I think you're so brave."

I grin. "Thanks! It's no big deal . . . I just know how to take care of myself."

I think I sound pretty convincing.

It all began with a stupid question:

Are You a Global Vagabond?

The cashier at the sporting goods shop jammed the pamphlet into my bag, like a receipt or a coupon for a discount oil change, something easily discarded. But to me, it seemed like an omen, appearing the exact moment my resolve started to crumble.

Blame my wilting willpower on my best friends, Olivia Luster and Reese Kinjo. They've never agreed on anything--except backing out on our trip.

The trip had been my idea in the first place. We'd chosen Europe, the obvious choice for eighteen-year-old travel virgins fresh out of high school. But after just a couple weeks of emailed images of the Louvre and La Rambla, links to online travel guides and airfare deals, Olivia and Reese dropped by my house. They never hang out together, so instantly, I knew something was up.

"We've decided we can't travel with you this summer," Olivia said. "The timing's just not right--we're sorry."

I sat on my bedroom floor involuntarily, like someone had snipped my marionette strings.

"Look, Bria--we're not trying to be assholes," she continued while Reese's nonconfrontational eyes scanned my ceiling. "We're only thinking of you. You're just not in the right headspace for traveling. Remember what happened on your birthday last week?"

"Yeah, I remember," I said, annoyed. "You almost fell off the balcony flashing half of Tijuana in the hot body contest--"

"I'm talking about the fifty billion kamikazes you threw back before puking in the taxi on our way home. You're lucky we didn't get into worse trouble than that. What if it happened in Czechoslovenia?"

"There's no such place as Czechoslovenia."

Reese, who hadn't gone to Mexico and probably never will, squatted beside me. "We just don't think you're in the right headspace to take a trip, Bria," she said in that amateur philosopher's voice that makes my eyes spiral. "You and Toby have been broken up for, like, six weeks, and you've barely left the house. You didn't even go to prom. You're obviously still healing--running away isn't going to expedite the process."

"You guys don't get it," I protested. "I need this . . ."

They waited, but I couldn't continue.

"We're really sorry, babe," Olivia said. "We'll have an epic summer right here in town, all right? I'll find you a new boy before college--or several. Remember, no strings!"

Reese waited for Olivia to leave, then gave me one of her feeble, girlish hugs. "Maybe we'll travel next summer. After a year of college, we'll have so much more perspective for a trip like this, anyway." A piece of her black hair fell into my open mouth.

As soon as my bedroom door shut, I noticed the plate of raspberry bars on my nightstand. A typical Reese Kinjo gesture: reconciliation by fresh-baked goods. I've known her since second grade, Olivia since eighth. They're like the opposite poles of my personality. Mild-mannered, responsible Reese is who I used to be, while in-your-face Olivia's who I want to be--with a few sharp edges dulled. We've never been a threesome. More like two twosomes, with me in common. I should have realized the three of us traveling together would have been uncomfortable, to say the least. And spending boatloads of money to serve as a pal's crying shoulder is a lot to ask. But why couldn't we have figured that out earlier?

I guess it's good they never learned my real motivation for heading abroad.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 23 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 23 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 31, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Left me with a goofy grin and an itch to travel!

    At first cover glance, wanderlove appears to be a feel-good book. Peaceful, hopeful, wishful… but what the cover does not say is that readers will be taking a trip into Central America and fall in love with not only the scenery but also the characters. Which is a travesty because wanderlove was absolutely perfect for anyone with that itch to travel!

    THE GOOD BITS

    {Bria} I think our shoes have got to be the same size because I swear we travel the same wavelength! Her artistic nature resonate so close to home with me. It is hard when one’s talents gets crushed by someone else, and I admire Bria as she struggles to figure out if art is worth giving up over a stupid boy. I adored the sketches scattered throughout the story – and I think that anyone with creative juices can easily sympathize with Bria.

    {A journey worth a thousand steps and a few scrapes} I think Bria had the most perfect travel experience – not because she had booked an official tour, but because she had the balls to throw away the travel guide and truly embrace the backpacking lifestyle. I have never been anywhere nearly exciting, but I know several people who have – and seriously I can picture Bria, Rowan, and Starling quite easily. I would probably be in the same “uncool and untried” state as Bria, and I hope to be just as fortunate to meet the “cool travel kids” to take me under their wings.

    {Sweet bud of a romance} Delicious, delicious tension – and I totally LOVED how Kirsten Hubbard handles Bria and Rowan’s relationship! I am all for the friends-first philosophy, and watching Bria and Rowan get stuck together against both their better judgments is totally worth the wait! The combination of Rowan’s mysterious past and Bria’s love-gone-wrong one created an impressive wall that they each had to break down. My favorite scenes involve them sitting in a hammock and simply talking.

    THE BAD BITS

    {The “no strings attached” storyline} I braced myself for Bria to be a wild child, especially at the very beginning since I did not know what to expect from wanderlove. I can understand why Bria might choose to use Central America as a way to nurse a broken heart – but, given how much Bria and I are like mind-twins, I simply cannot fathom meaningless hookups for her. While I am glad that this storyline did not take that direction, I do not quite understand why it entered into Bria’s travel itinerary.

    THE OVERALL

    I left wanderlove with a big, goofy grin on my face – and perhaps a few more dreamy-eyed thoughts about when I would follow Bria’s footsteps into the world. wanderlove makes the allure of traveling all the more tangible for anyone who dares to make it happen, and it also reminds us that sometimes the best travel plans are those left to where the wind blows or the heart desires.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Review: Wanderlove

    It's funny how often a book can be on your radar before you truly pick it up and look at it. I've seen this one countless times, but I never read the description until it was included in an email offering the book for review. I thought, hey I like to travel, sounds like it might be a fun read. I'm so glad I agreed!

    I think I loved this book as much as I did because I really identified with the main character, Bria. No, I didn't go off on my own in Central America, but something kind of similar (and under similar circumstances). The entire book made me relive the experience and reminded greatly of a friend I haven't seen in 10 years. She reminds me a lot of Starling in this book (in fact at the current moment, my friend is in the The Democratic Republic of the Conga).

    I loved the way Bria behaved in this book. She may have been hurting over a guy, but took steps to get past that and move forward. Granted not everybody takes such drastic measures, but I admired the fact that she could do it. I also laughed that her tour group was so far from what she thought it was going to be. I enjoyed that she sucked it up and decided to go off the beaten path to really experience what Central America had to offer her. I found her journey to be exciting and made me miss the travel opportunities I may have missed in my youth (I don't see myself traveling like this as I grow older).

    I found myself attached to Rowan as well. Rowan was hiding something, and I knew it was something big that probably got him into a lot of trouble. I liked that Bria was hesitant around him, but was really trying to push him as well. I wanted to know all about him just as much as Bria did (even if she wouldn't admit it to herself). I wasn't surprised at the details of what happened, but I was more than happy to take the journey to learn them.

    And overall wonderful book. It was crafted beautifully and I loved the attention to detail. It made me want to go backpacking through Central America...off the beaten path of course!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2013

    One of my favorite YA contemporaries (I would leave a pen name b

    One of my favorite YA contemporaries (I would leave a pen name but the button is not working!) The main character Bria just graduated, but she is a long way from knowing what she wants. Her travel experience is so relatable; thinking she is adventurous on her tour, only to find she is lumped in with a group much older and less adventurous than she wishes she was. She takes a chance with some backpackers and goes the more Lonely Planet route. Though the whole time, Bria struggles with how she sees herself, how she wants to, and attempts to reconcile the two. The imagery of her travels is just beautiful, and also very real (hot busses, missed connections). The romance feels natural and not gimmicky. Really lovely book!

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  • Posted October 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I've read Wanderlove twice now, and each time the feeling to get

    I've read Wanderlove twice now, and each time the feeling to get up, find a back pack, and travel to Central America overwhelmed me. 




    Bria, a freshly graduated 18 year old, decides she wants to travel. See the world--with her boyfriend, except, well, he was now the ex-boyfriend, so scratch that, she'd go with Olivia and Reese, her two best friends. But they bailed on her too. Determined not to spend the summer crying over Toby and fussing over which of her friends she would hang out with, because they didn't exactly like each other, she became A Global Vagabond... only better.




    She boards the plane, headed for Central America, ready to explore the sites when a whimsy girl plops down beside her. Starling is flouncy and curious, friendly. Overly so considering Bria has not a freakin' clue what she's spewing from her mouth. What Bria doesn't realize is Starling is an experienced backpacker and Bria is only causing herself to look like a fool every single time she spoke.




    Only one foolish thing to bite her in the butt, right? Well, not quite, but when Bria meets up with the tour group she's traveling with, they're all middle-aged and not at all what she pictured. Every single minute of their day is planned, the Vagabonds are filled with rules of where you can go, what to eat, who to talk to, so basically it was like living at home, only worse.




    I enjoyed Wanderlove with all my heart. Bria's experiences, even the ones I shook my head at, feeling a secondary embarrassment for her--when Rowan invited her to dinner--were ones I wished I'd been smart enough to take on right out of high school. Travel, even by backpack. My family camped, I was no stranger to the wilderness. The time learning to take care of myself away from my family would've been some dang good therapy. Though I cannot imagine my mother's face if I told her I was going to Central America to backpack my way from one place to another. I'm actually smiling thinking about it now.




    Kirsten Hubbard's words carved a miraculous world and filled the pages with beautiful, but sometimes, broken characters. Starling, the optimistic friend and sister who never let anyone flail, lost and wondering for too long. Rowan, the charismatic prankster who had had his share of fun and, equally, his share of trouble, who wears his heart on his sleeve, wove his way into my heart. Making me angry one moment and causing my body to shake with laughter the next. And Bria, the brave heroine. She's never whiny, and takes to the world of backpacking with the grace of ballerina.  




    I'm certain some parents would not appreciate what I took from this story, but the advice I've given my oldest--and will give my youngest when she's there--is to really experience all you want in life when you are young. Travel, have fun, but most importantly, no matter how you do it... keep learning. Education, in all its forms, is invaluable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    Great

    Great

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  • Posted June 3, 2012

    Wanderlove is a story centered around 18 year old Bria Sando



    Wanderlove is a story centered around 18 year old Bria Sandoval. After a breakup with her boyfriend and her passion for drawing seemingly lost Bria decides to book a trip to Central America and see the world. This impulse leads to a guided tour that isn’t at all what she expects and hardly the key to self-rediscovery.

    Then in town Bria meets Rowan, a real traveler, a backpacker who knows how to really travel authentically along with his sister Starling she seizes the chance to ditch the boring group and go off the beaten path. At the start of their threesome journey Starling has to leave and sticks Bria and Rowan to travel alone. It’s clear that Rowan has secrets and a past that is full of shadowy secrets. Bria must come to terms with why she really ended up there and how to find a way to move on because you can’t run from your problems forever.

    I must say I’ve always sorta fantasized about backpacking with a group of trusted people through countries and seeing the real stuff, not just the tourist traps. But alas I am a creature of technology and comfort and never thought I could hack it as a true backpacker. Still the idea of Wanderlove, the theory/idea discussed in the book, is captivating. This book though, it depicted what I really think it would be like to be there. The good, the bad, and the crazy.

    The setting changes with each passing place on the journey but each one comes alive. The waters so clear and beautiful I want to dip my toes in. The towns, streets, hostiles, all described so realistically I could see it in my mind and feel like I was there because that’s as close as I’ll get. I like daily hot showers, just saying. Then there are the drawings. Bria is an artist and even when she isn’t drawing she still thinks about it, describes it in her mind as if her hand held a pen.

    Each character has their own unique attributes that make them their own. Some may have things in common, some are stereotypes but that’s life. I feel that if I ever were to get over my aversion to the lack of amenities that I would want to travel with someone like Rowan and Bria.

    This book too me on a journey and honestly put something new on my bucket list.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2012

    Amazing story

    The way it was written, the relatable storyline, and the diverse characters all make this a wonderful book! Very inspiring!

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  • Posted April 16, 2012

    An irresistible, adorably written YA novel. My Overall Thoughts

    An irresistible, adorably written YA novel.

    My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: First off, I'd like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for letting me review this book.

    I had heard great things about this book and had been dying to read it for months so when I got the e-galley, I was absolutely ecstatic. This book seemed like it would be absolutely incredible.

    After forty pages, I was beginning to wonder if I would be the one who wouldn't like this novel. However, after a few more pages, that fear quickly dissipated. I absolutely adored this book. I don't really know why. I can't pin down one aspect of this novel that I especially liked...I just liked everything in the novel as a whole. Every aspect of this novel combined together and created an incredible read.

    I read this in one sitting and was thoroughly intrigued the entire time. This was Hubbard's sophomore novel and was the first novel I read by her. I can firmly say that this won't be my last novel by her either.

    I loved the way this novel was written. I loved the characters. And I loved that the novel centered around two vagabond travelers--the good girl trying to go bad and the bad boy trying to go good. That right there hooked me.

    In Summary: A beautifully written contemporary realistic young adult novel that I highly recommend. This novel is definitely one of my favorites of the year.

    Warnings/ Side-notes: Minor swearing with a few instances of some heavier swearing. Some references to drugs and sex. However, this novel is still relatively clean. It's definitely one that some people might not want to read. However, I really enjoyed it and thought it was relatively clean.

    The Wrap-up: I really enjoyed this novel. It lived up to the hype. This novel was one that I really loved and am glad that I got to read. Definitely recommend this one.

    Love,

    Danica Page

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  • Posted April 4, 2012

    Wow . . . it's been a while since I read a contemporary novel I

    Wow . . . it's been a while since I read a contemporary novel I enjoyed this much. I loved every page, every word of Wanderlove. It swept me away on a whirlwind of foreign visits and believable characters and sweet relationships. I love Bria's journey of personal growth and her adventures with Rowan and Starling--so real and natural.

    The storyline pulled me in from the very beginning and held me all the way through. The combination of incredible writing, interesting artwork, and foreign travel make this an absolute jewel of a story. I was sorry to finish. Now, I feel like packing my bags and experiencing the world. Maybe someday . . .

    I haven't read Like Mandarin yet, although it's been on my TBR list forever. I'll definitely be bumping it up on my priority list!

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  • Posted March 29, 2012

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    Bria's finally taking a chance--she's doing something just for h

    Bria's finally taking a chance--she's doing something just for her that other people don't actually think she has the guts to do on her own. However, a guided tour through Central America with a group of middle-aged, fanny-pack wearing tourists isn't exactly what she had in mind. Then she takes the ultimate leap and sets off on and adventure with backpacking siblings Starling and Rowan. Traveling this way, Bria just might find what she's been looking for all along...

    The characters in Kirsten Hubbard's sophomore YA novel captured my full attention from page one. Bria is trying so hard to break out of the shell that she's put herself in and find her way in a world that's disappointed her. She let a boyfriend and friends dictate who she thought she was and now she's struggling to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She's already abandoned her art school dreams and her friends abandoned their travel plans. Her journey is really unique and captivating. The side characters also added a lot of flavor to the story. From Rowan and Starling to the overbearing travel guide, Marcie, and the Swedish bad boy, Jack, each character has a special place in the story and thus Bria's journey.

    The combination of travel and art in this novel really captivated me. I adored all of the descriptions of the places that Bria went and Hubbard's writing really took me there. I felt like I could really "see" the places in my imagination and it gave me quite the itch to go back to Central America and travel like Bria, Rowan, and Starling. I've also found recently that I really enjoy art/artists in books (well, really, Graffiti Moon made me think that I might and this book proved it). There's something about that being included in a book that adds a layer that I really appreciate.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend that you check it out. It's worth every moment that you spend immersed in its pages and then some. The beautiful writing, settings, characters, and artwork make this a great springtime read (but be warned, it will probably give you or reignite the travel bug...).

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  • Posted March 20, 2012

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    Kirsten Hubbard made a fan out of me with her debut, “Like

    Kirsten Hubbard made a fan out of me with her debut, “Like Mandarin”, which took the relationship between two girls and exposed the intricacies of female friendship – be it as teenagers or adults – with a deftness and sincerity that took my breath away. In “Wanderlove” she lays bare a different kind of love and experience with the same insightful, personal brush.

    Bria discovers the world of backpacking, a place the author clearly loves dearly, much the same way the majority of readers would experience it – as a novice. She asks the embarrassing questions, wears the wrong clothes, and generally feels like she sticks out like a sore thumb. Creating a character who enters this world accidentally and without any preparation helps us readers dip our toes in slowly too, and damn if I didn’t want to put the book down at least half a dozen times to book a plane ticket.

    Yes, Kirsten’s feel and descriptions of Central America are lovely and vibrant. I want to go there. I want to stuff clothes for 2 weeks in a bag and not talk to a soul except the ones beside me, to take pictures and learn history and breathe earnestness and beauty.

    That is a wonderful side effect of “Wanderlove”, but it is not the book’s heart and soul.

    Instead of the love between girlfriends (as with “Like Mandarin”) or even romantic love between a boy and a girl (which is present – and totally swoonworthy - in “Wanderlove”), the book is about figuring out how to love yourself. Bria is coming out of her first serious relationship, which while not outwardly abusive, left her a bruised shell of the girl she had been. She’s an artist, but somewhere along the way, she let him take that away from her too. She goes to Central America to do something, to prove to her ex that she doesn’t need him to be successful, but mostly to run away from all of the decisions she doesn’t want to face, all of the future realities that aren’t as rosy as she once believed they could be.

    Bria pictures the trip as exciting, something out of a travel brochure, but what she finds is a bunch of middle-aged folks being herded from one place to another with no room for exploration, no place to expand and grow.
    Then she meets Rowan and his sister Starling, experienced backpackers, wanderers, runners from pasts, who invite her along for a week and a half of unsupervised travel and freedom.
    Along the road from Guatemala to Belize, Bria and Rowan get to know one another, discover that not talking about the past doesn’t make it go away, and yes, fall in love.

    Bria is a fantastic character. We all hide things, ignore them and pretend they’ve gone away while instead they just fester, or believe that the only way to protect ourselves is not to care about anyone or anything ever again. What she learns is a lesson that it takes some people a lifetime to understand – that we can’t run from who we are, and embracing the pain and the beauty of our experiences is the only way to move forward. Rowan, a boy also searching for redemption, for the strength to be a better human being, for a place to call home, is the perfect compliment. Starling is a deeply developed secondary character. She’s so clear in my mind, so perfectly formed. I would read another volume with her in the leading role.

    I adore this book. Kirsten has knocked it out of the park with “Wanderlove,” which is even better than her debut and leaves me breathless in anticipation of what she’ll offer up next.

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  • Posted March 14, 2012

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    Wanderlove has definitely brought back the itch for traveling fo

    Wanderlove has definitely brought back the itch for traveling for me. I LOVE to travel. I take pride in exploring other cultures, living like their people, and seeing all the places tourist groups neglect. I've been to some East Asian countries such as Malaysia and South Korea, and let me tell you, without an open mind and living the moment, some of my memorable experiences wouldn't have happened.
    This is why I loved Bria! She had an adventurous soul, it just took her a while to figure it out. Going to Guatemala on your own, for your first overseas trip? that takes some courage! I saw the country through her eyes. The local markets, the people, their food (especially that!) and the exhilarating feeling of exploring and experiencing things you wouldn't have had the chance to find and do if you hadn't traveled there. Kristen Hubbard is a fantastic storyteller! I loved how she mixed up normal narration with journal entries, and drawings by Bria. I felt like I was touring with Lucy, seeing things through her eyes, the drawings were definitely a plus for me, they gave the book more life and gave us insight into what was on Lucy's mind and what affected her emotionally.
    Because of some situation, Bria ended up backpacking (apparently the 'real' way to traveling) with Rowan. Their time together was just fun to read. The sarcasm, the bickering, the slow friendship between them was all enjoyable. Of course we all know what will eventually happen between them, but the build up was overall entertaining. I haven't read Kristen's debut novel "Like Mandarin" but her love for traveling, creativity, and likable writing made me add her novel to my priority reading pile! I would highly recommend Wanderlove to any travel enthusiast and obviously any contemporary lover!

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  • Posted March 14, 2012

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    Best YA Contemporary book I've read in a LONG time

    Disclaimers: I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for this honest review.

    Reading a book like Wanderlove always makes me stop and sit quietly after I've finished. I think about what I've just read, what it means, what might happen next, but mainly just think, "Wow. That was really good." Books like this also make me strive to be a better writer. To see what good writing really looks like and to experience the impact a book can have on a reader.

    This book also sort of made me depressed. Depressed that I didn't do more traveling in my youth before I settled down. I wish that I would've packed a bag and left for Guatamala like Bria did. If you're young and reading this, travel. I did a bit before college (Amsterdam, Spain, France), and am glad I did. It's worth the money and the time. Be adventurous and make some amazing memories and create some great stories for yourself.

    So, what are the events that lead Bria up to taking this trip by herself? Well, she and her boyfriend, Toby, broke up. We don't know a lot about Toby, except for a few scattered mentions by Bria. She was supposed to take the trip with her two best friends, Olivia and Reese, but they bailed on her, citing the fact that it was too soon after Bria's breakup for her to be a good travel partner. Great friends, right? She was going to go to art school, got accepted and everything, but for whatever reason, she doesn't go. So, Bria decides to book herself an all-inclusive, group travel session for three weeks on the Mayan Road. But things don't go as she plans.
    As readers, we're dumped right into Bria's story. Here's what we know:

    She's 18
    She applied to art school but didn't go
    She had a boyfriend, but they broke up
    She's stopped drawing completely
    She's going to Guatamala. Alone
    As the book goes on, we discover (through small flashbacks) about the things that have driven Bria to make the decision she has. Her boyfriend was royally screwed up and she's trying to escape everything she can. Hubbard is one of the most talented and brilliant writers of YA Contemporary I've come across. I'm not kidding when I say that I was with Bria every moment of her journey.I felt what she felt, experienced what she did, and wanted to be along with her, backpacking through Central America alongside Starling and Rowan. The beaches were beautiful and the experiences more so.
    Hubbard's talent at EVERYTHING is spellbinding. The voice she gives to Bria is funny, snarky, and instantly likable. I wanted to hurry up and read this story to know everything that happened, but at the same time, didn't want it to end (there was actually a day my Nook didn't work and I thought I was going to die because I didn't get to read any more Wanderlove! Yes, I realize that's slightly pathetic). She didn't have to go into long descriptions or heavy scenes showing the reader what a complete jerk Toby was. She did it by dropping small comments made by Bria or quick memories. She did the same thing with the relationship between Bria's parents. In one line I knew EXACTLY what kind of home life she had and the dynamics between her mom and dad.
    The ending is complete and fits the character and story perfectly. I found myself with Bria and feeling her anxiousness and then disappointment.I felt her reluctance and joy. I smiled and sighed with contentment. I have never been more "there", both mentally and emotionally, in any book than I was in that one s

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  • Posted March 13, 2012

    Last year, I was one of the first people to receive a Like Manda

    Last year, I was one of the first people to receive a Like Mandarin ARC, Kirsten’s debut. I fell for that book hard. Maybe because it was set near my town of Wyoming or that it was strictly about friendship—something I had been craving at that time.

    So when I heard that Kirsten’s sophomore novel was about traveling, I was ecstatic. Ask any of my friends and family, and they’ll tell you that I want to travel. That I want to visit every historical place on this world, go to Antarctica (Madeleine L’Engle’s Troubling A Star is one of my favorite books) to dine with penguins, to go to Central America and speak their language (My Spanish? No bueno.), to go to Europe and backpack around every country I can.

    According to Rowan, Starling, and Bria, I’m inflicted with Wanderlove. And I couldn’t be happier, even if the farthest I’ve traveled is to Baja, California. (I will go farther, I swear, I will!)

    I love Kirsten Hubbard’s writing so much that I was never scared to begin Wanderlove and find out I didn’t like. I trusted Kirsten so much that I completely forgot that Wanderlove was in a different boat than Like Mandarin. All I could think about was: “Wanderlove’s on NetGalley and it’s read now omg omg omg. iPad, where are you?!”

    Because, y’know, I’m always losing the iPad.

    Bria Sandoval is someone I connect to—not the rotten relationship part, but the art part. The longing to get far away. The fact that she has Hispanic heritage (high five!) That she doesn’t know a lot of Spanish. It was so easy for me to read about her journey.

    And Rowan? Omg, swoon. I freaking loved him. I believe I was thinking “Kiss him” after they met. Because kissing is awesome. And he’s cute, but a jerk; he has flaws, so he’s not perfect.

    I really liked all the characters. Hubbard does an amazing job with making her characters 3D, and after finishing her books, I want to read it again because I miss the characters so bad.

    AND THERE ARE DRAWINGS! drawings are awesome.

    Wanderlove is recommended. Everybody should read this. But a warning: you might be inflicted with wanderlove afterwards—I was! Still am. I want to go backpacking around central America.

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  • Posted March 13, 2012

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    Wanderlove is an irresistible, beautiful love story. I really wo

    Wanderlove is an irresistible, beautiful love story. I really would like to thank Kirsten Hubbard for sharing a part of her life with me. I'm so jealous ( Kirsten Hubbard will know what I mean by this statement) but it's a good jealous. Knowing that Wanderlove came from Hubbard's real life experience made this novel come alive for me, and the love between Bria and Rowan had me wanting to grab a backpack and find my Rowan. Yes, as I said, this is an irresistible and beautiful love story.

    Bria is eighteen, and on her way to Central America to reinvent herself. The ex-boyfriend she centered her life and future around, has just taken it all away. Bria decides it’s time for a I-don't-care-attitude, cut loose have some fun, love only when its meaningless, frame of mind. When Bria gets to Central America, she meets Starling and Rowan. So she trades in her middle age wannabe vagabond for the real backpackers’ experience with bad boy Rowan. Bria is definitely going get a real experience, and it comes in a love wandering Rowan.

    Rowan is a backpacking bad-boy with a pass, and he’s going to teach Bria the real meaning of his vagabond lifestyle. Bria wants Rowan's perpetual anticipation way of life, but what Rowan and Bria will find is the antidote to their wandering hearts.

    Wanderlove is a beautiful, melt-your-heart romance. It's also about trusting, respecting, and learning to be true to who you really know you are—to love yourself first. I recommend Wanderlove as a love story adventure must read.

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  • Posted March 13, 2012

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    Book Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

    This was a lovely coming of age story set in front of the backdrop of Latin America. Kirsten Hubbard takes us on a journey along with Bria as she sets off to escape her her realities of an emotionally abusive relationship, self doubts and all the baggage that's holding her back.


    As she travels through Central America, meets other backpackers, and experiences the wonders of other cultures, gorgeous scenery and most importantly the joy of her own dreams, she slowly begins to leave all of that baggage behind and find herself.


    The characters are all believable and honest. The setting is so amazing that I regret never having the opportunity to experience the world as Bria does. And the will they/won't they romance between Bria and Rowan kept me wondering until the end.


    For those who have wonderful memories of traveling or simply dreams of going where the road leads...this book is a wonderful journey of the spirit and imagination and teaches us all that even if lost...we can find our dreams again.

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  • Posted March 7, 2012

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    Wanderlove

    First and foremost, this book makes me want to travel the world. Just pack and bag and go. Never look back, and never have any regrets. This book was exactly what I needed right now. I am not going to go in to detail of what I have been going through, but this book the world's biggest smile on my face!

    You meet Bria! Boy where do I even begin with Bria.... She is a 18 years old and she is going to travel to Central America to see the world. She signs up for a group tour but ends up going off on her own with a couple backpackers. Now that takes guts. I never could have do that...this is why I think that Bria is one strong women. I mean she has no idea what she is getting into. And she just takes this adventure by the horns and goes with it. Sometimes I wish that I was like this. Don't get me wrong, I am very strong willed, but I am nothing compared to Bria. But Bria is running away from something/someone. She needs to start to figure things out like where her life is going to go, or how is she going to pay for her next meal.

    Well during this adventure she meets Rowan. And Rowan is what you can call the good guy that wants nothing to do with you type.....literally... He just wants to be friends and nothing more. I can't stand it when guys say that! I mean you know you want more, and you know it is going to end up being more so just give in. :)

    This story defiantly has its ups and downs. It has its twist and turns and everything else that a great books should need. I would defiantly recommend this book to anyone that wants to get away from all the drama that the real life deals you. It will take you to a far away land so you can find your "Wanderlove."

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  • Posted August 26, 2011

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    Leaves you wanting to pack your bags (in a good way)

    Reading books about travel, especially spontaneous and outrageous travel, makes me want to pack my bags and go. Through the eyes of Bria, even the bad and ugly seems to shine in a brighter, more attractive light. She is able to see the beauty of the world in practically everything, and living this trip through her voice was wonderful. The traveling, however, is only the surface of the book. Both Bria and Rowan are working through their own issues. No matter how much they try and keep their past lives from one another, little by little things slip out and start unraveling.

    I loved Bria's unwavering respect toward Rowan's privacy. Even when she didn't have much of a reason to trust him any longer, she still refused to let people talk about his past without his say so. I loved Rowan's pension for quoting books he's read. Both have let the world around them and their experiences impact who they are in away, that despite the issues and trouble they've been into in the past, I was almost jealous. I wanted to be one of them, and to see and experience the world like they do.

    The conversations about judgment and being judged were impacting to me as well. Their conversations were mostly about travel; just because you're a backpacker doesn't mean that you're poor; and just because you travel on guided tours doesn't mean you aren't well traveled. I think their opinions and conclusions are applicable in many areas. They were also very human about it as well. Even once reaching these conclusions about not judging, Bria still struggled with it, misjudging Starling from beginning to end.

    Of course there is the budding relationship. I loved the pace that Bria and Rowan moved at. Both of them were going through some major healing, dealing with their own issues. I loved that much of that healing was done together, and that made their relationship seem all that more real and sweet.

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    Posted April 27, 2012

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    Posted June 25, 2014

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