Bria tries to escape her present when she signed up for a tour group by herself. She was in the Guatemelian (is that right?) airport when she meet Rowan and Starling, to backpackers who thought she was one too. But when they meet again in a wet market, the truth was out. Rowan then invited Bria to his hotel for the night, not thinking Bria would go. His expectations proves wrong when Bria shows up, abandoning her tour group. She soon finds out that Rowan was just pulling her lake, only that she couldn’t go back to the hotel because the last boat is gone. Bria was compelled to stay, but swears that she’s outta there first thing in the morning. Starling, the wild backpacker who’s the sister of Rowan, asks Bria to stay and keep an eye on her brother. Eager to really experience backpacking, Bria agrees, only to find herself on an unexpectedly fruitful journey, making her understand the core destination: Wanderlove.
Wanderlove is a beautifully crafted novel of travelling, falling in love and essentially finding your own self.
I love the characters! Bria is sensitive and thoughtful, and the fact that she draws made her even more endearing to me. I understand her hunger to draw, and how the longer you dropped your pencil, the longer it takes you to pick up the pencil again. I connected with her and pitied her past, while yelling at her and Rowan to just kiss already. It was amazing to watch her grow from one who travels just to escape the past into a young woman who’s brave to live her life. Rowan, on the other hand, is an experienced backpacker with a sketchy past. I like his fun and semi-reckless personality, and the good guy hiding beneath that uncaring exterior. He, might have top my list of favorite guys. Starling is a charitable backpacker, in a doing charity work kind of way (she teaches in Guatemala). She is truly memorable, a caring elder sister to Rowan, a strong and slightly comedic presence in the novel. The other characters, such as the bead maker and Jack, are also enjoyable, but a little less crafted as their screen time is less. Hubbard did an excellent job of crafting the characters, especially the leads, her extreme details making the characters even more alive.
The author also made the relationship between Bria and Rowan realistically. There are awkward moments, insecure, feelings, wonderings, intimate moments and the romance scenes. Their relationship was a good one, slowly blossoming and growing. It was fun to see them engage each other, and to plain yell at them sometimes for being so, secretive. The dance around the truth for both of them is frustrating at times.
Another thing I love for in the novel is the scenes: carefree backpackers tracking the roads, beautiful lakes, children running along the streets. These are the vivid pictures Hubbard painted in my mind. Bria’s insight is in tuned with the scenery, complementing the pictures perfectly. There are drawings between the pages, showing how well Hubbard could draw. This is another favorite point of mine in Wanderlove. The drawings are able to portray Bria’s mood at that exact moment.
The prose, oh the prose! It was beautiful and mesmerizing. Hubbard is a really talented writer. She made my eyes water and laugh at the laptop screen like a mad woman. I felt the hollow of Bria, the ecstasy of travelling, the urge to flee, both literally and metaphorically. I felt Bria’s hesitation, Rowan’s elusiveness, Starling’s concern. I felt everything. I was so sad when the characters are hurting, and my heart ached when they ached, and when the story ended.
The only thing I didn’t like is the way clues were dropped but addressed way too late in the novel. Since it’s narrated completely by Bria, we don’t know anything else that she doesn’t know, but the clues were clear, yet somehow Bria couldn’t figure out the truth. In other words, the writer wishes to create suspense, but it wasn’t as successful as intended. Perhaps the clues should be a few lesser or more subtle.
Wanderlove is less a YA romance, but more about the concept itself: the love of endless travel to experience life, to understand yourself. In the end, I end up more than I bargained for. There are no exact words to describe this novel, you’ll have to read it to really get it.
The cover is beautiful, simple and warm, though I would prefer a hand drawn picture as a cover over this.
Ratings: 4.5 stars (I’ll be the first one in the bookstore to buy it!)