Riya and Abby are:Best friends.Complete opposites.Living on different continents.Currently mad at each other.About to travel around Europe.Riya moved to Berlin, Germany, with her family for junior year, while Abby stayed behind in their small California town. They thought it would be easy to keep up their friendship-it's only a year and they've been best friends since preschool. But instead, they ended up fighting and not being there for the other. So Riya proposes an epic adventure to fix their friendship. Two weeks, six countries, unimaginable fun. But two small catches: They haven't talked in weeks. They've both been keeping secrets.Can Riya and Abby find their way back to each other among lush countrysides and dazzling cities, or does growing up mean growing apart?
About the Author
Kim Culbertson is the author of The Possibility of Now; Catch a Falling Star; Instructions for a Broken Heart, a Northern California Book Award winner; and Songs for a Teenage Nomad. She lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter, her favorite travel companions. For more about Kim, visit www.kimculbertson.com.
Read an Excerpt
I don't recognize Riya at first. She has cut her waist-length hair and not just her usual trim. It's half a foot shorter and has actual layers, tousled but purposely so. She wears a plum-colored tank dress with a chunky belt, dangly silver earrings, and aviator glasses. Apparently, Europe looks good on Riya. “Abby!” she squeals, spotting me, and hurries to engulf me in a floral-scented hug. After a year, after this stupid, harsh year, I thought I might be too angry to hug her, to pretend we aren't furious with each other, to act like we never said all those things the last time we talked, but it's Riya and she's hugging me, and I've missed her so much and I'm exhausted from the travel and from this year, so I melt into her. After a moment, she steps back, takes my bag, and slings it over her shoulder. “How was the flight?” Exhausted, I babble random history thoughts at her. “I couldn't stop thinking about how a hundred years ago, people were just starting to consider that a transatlantic flight was possible. Weird, right?” Nodding, Riya tries to follow my line of thought as she leads me toward the airport exit. “I mean, I couldn't stop thinking about Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis and how he was just alone up there in the sky above all that dark water.” As we walk into the hot Italian air, Riya takes my hand. “I missed you.” “Missed you more.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Teenagers Abby and Riya had been best friends since they were little children. They were never apart until the day Riya moved from her hometown in Yuba Ridge, California to Berlin, Germany with her family. Whilst Riya was getting to know her new hometown and school, Abby’s life was falling apart as her mum left her dad for another man. With the two so far away from one another they tried to talk on the phone or Facetime as much as possible, but with resentment creeping in from both of them, their friendship started dwindling. Not wanting to lose her best friend, Riya has a brilliant idea and soon afterward Abby receives airline tickets in the post. Riya has invited Abby for a two week all expenses paid tour of six European countries, there is only one catch, Riya cousin Neel is escorting them and he’s a bit of a stickler for the rules. There’s also the matter that Riya might have an ulterior motive for this trip too! The Wonder of Us is a cute YA book that features interesting characters and vibrant cities. Throughout the book, the best friends visit Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Scotland, Iceland, and England. Abby is a history buff and loves everything from the past, especially The Seven Wonders of the World, so Riya tries to make the trip as interesting for her as possible, showing her new wonders that can be found in each city. The main aim of the trip though is to try and become close again and repair the damage that has been caused between them, however, the girls seem reluctant to actually speak about what has happened and try to brush it under the rug, which over time causes more friction between them. I really enjoyed the plot, visiting the numerous countries and learning so much about each of them. I do have a little problem with how much time we got to spend in each city. For example, we head to Florence, Italy for the first ‘Wonder’ and this takes up 66 pages. When we visit London, England this only covers 31 pages and lacks the detail that the earlier countries did. For each country we visited the number of pages dedicated to that country reduced. I would of love to of seen a nearly equal amount to each. The book is told from dual points of view by both of the girls. Now I’m not normally one for dual or multiple narratives but for this book to work it really needed it. The chapters are told from alternating POV so you always know which girl you are spending time with. Whilst the girls were typical teenagers and sometimes fun, sometimes moody, I really enjoyed getting to know Neel. He is one eccentric young man who is wise beyond his years, yet still, a teenager inside, even if he doesn’t like to show it often. The book was great fun to read and shows you the importance of friendship and that just because someone is thousands of miles away it doesn’t lessen their feelings for their friends. It also shows the reader that sometimes you need to learn to stand on your own two feet and face the world.
I couldn’t put down this book! Both Riya and Abby’s distinct voices and personalities pop off the page as Culbertson takes them – and you! – on a vivid tour of Europe. Not only is this book a gorgeous tribute to six different countries, at the heart of the story is an emotional journey that examines what it’s like to grow up female and establish an identity of one’s own. THE WONDER OF US is unexpected, witty, and fun – everything I love about Kim Culbertson’s books!