Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Genre: Young Adult; Contemporary
Suggested Age: 12+
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.
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.