Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

I won't even bother posting cover images in my reviews anymore. I'm just so lazy. I always think I should, but the thought of even trying to obtain a properly sized image and format it correctly... just makes me want to go to bed. Mentally exhausting. So my reviews from this point on will just be thoughts spewed out onto my keyboard, and if you don't like it, well, I'll link to Goodreads so you can see the pretty pictures.

I read and really enjoyed Kirsten Hubbard's debut novel, Like Mandarin, so I knew she could craft a great story and a beyond-amazing setting going into Wanderlove. I anticipated that I'd like Wanderlove a lot for those reasons.

And hot damn, I was right. But I didn't quite anticipate what this book would do to me.

So our protagonist is Bria Sandoval. She just graduated from high school and just broke up with a controlling boyfriend who didn't deserve her at all and why the heck couldn't she see that, come on Bria, you're way too good for him and gahhhh.

I effing loved Bria. I don't say this often about YA protagonists. I've been known to get hives at any inkling of angst from a Too Stupid To Live heroine, which are all too common in this little book community. Bria is the oppose of TSTL. Even when she annoyed me, like in her memories of her idiot boyfriend, she wasn't being stupid. She was being real.

That's what I didn't anticipate about this book. How it would remind me of myself in so, so many different ways.

This book is about traveling. Backpacking in Central America, to be precise, which is not a place I've ever dreamed of going. Hot, sticky, tropical climates and hot, sticky, dirty backroad methods of travel are definitely not my thing. But it doesn't matter, because Wanderlove really did awaken wanderlove in me.

When I was fourteen, I got the chance to go to France with my French Immersion school. I leapt at the chance, got a job, and worked for a year to pay for the ten-day trip myself, no help from Mommy and Daddy. Five years ago this month, I went, had a fabulous time, and returned with my appetite whetted, ready to jet off again the next chance I got.

My family isn't big on traveling. We do road trips -- I've been all over most of my province squashed in a car with my brother and sister -- but I had never even been on a plane before my France trip. The chance for me to go somewhere else hasn't come yet, even five years later. Soon. I've scraping my pennies together to go to England, but then my car broke down and I had to buy a new one and some health-related stuff happened in my family and it's been one delay after another for the past year and it's looking like maybe I can go in September. It's feeling really far away, like it might never happen.

And that's what Wanderlove reminded me: that I want it so, so bad. I want to get out of here, go somewhere different, learn new things and see beauty. I was starting to forget that, in the wake of financial trouble and delays and things getting in my way. I had almost forgotten that the enormous desire to just go is all I really need. As long as I have that, I'll find a way.

So, yeah. My review of Wanderlove is actually a ramble about my own sad little life. Ah, well. That's the mark of a good book. I was too wrapped up in what it was making me feel and what it was giving to me that nothing else mattered. It's a great story. Great writing. Kirsten's illustrations are gorgeous (although I wish there were a lot more of them), and even though Central America never really appealed to me before, I keep finding myself Googling pictures of the locales in the book and sighing, thinking "maybe, someday."

In short, it's really good. You should read it. Escape inside it's pages and then work towards Bria's journey of discovery yourself, one day.


  1. I haven't read this, but it's waiting for me on my Kindle. I loved Like Mandarin, and I've heard so many good things. The mark of a good book is definitely that it triggers some strong emotions, and it looks to me like it did for you. I can't wait to read this! Great review.

    1. Thanks! I hope you love it. It's very, very good. And I realize now that I completely forgot to mention the other characters that I loved... suffice it to say they're all great :)