Sandoval needs a change. Her relationship is over; she's given up art and hasn't even bothered sending in her college housing forms. Off she goes on a Global Vagabond tour of Central America that turns out to be made up completely of middle aged people. When Bria gets a chance to travel the real way, with two backpackers, Starling and Rowan, she takes it and ends up on a journey that could either make her forget all about her past or help her face it.
This was a highly readable book. I wanted to keep going to find out what happened. There was a will-they-won't-they question throughout the whole book, although I wasn't really wondering. I knew they would. It was just a matter of how and when they (they being Bria and Rowan) were going to get together. And then what would happen when they did.
We learn that Bria is coming out of an emotionally abusive relationship, and that no one knew it was abusive. Not her friends or her parents, or even herself, for a while. Bria use to love to draw and was going to go to art school, but because of her now ex-boyfriend, she let it all slide away until the only place she can go is to the state college. Bria is angry at her ex, and her friends and family for not noticing and helping her, but she's mostly mad at herself for letting this happen. Rowan is running from his own past as well, but where Bria is trying to break out of her shell and live a more exciting life, Rowan is trying to do the opposite. Both Rowan and Bria have secrets they're hiding from each other, and both are reluctant to let down their walls and trust someone new.
Hubbard is a travel writer and backpacker, and she was able to bring that authenticity into her writing. Bria and Rowan travel to islands off the beaten path, taking chicken buses to get there. We get beautiful descriptions of the scenery and the wild life, as well as the crappy hostels and hotels they stay in. Bria is starting to draw again, and her sketches accompany the story.
One thing I would just like to say is a "kids don't try this at home" warning. Bria has never traveled in her life and yet she's waltzing across Central America eating food off street carts and drinking the water. Seriously kids, don't do that. You will get so, so sick. I can maybe buy that Rowan could do that, as he's been traveling around Central America for two years and could have built up a tolerance, but sorry Bria. No way you could eat like that and not suffer the consequences.
I seem to be reading a string of books where I didn't quite buy the ending. I guess the point is that Rowan is ready to give up his wanderlove for Bria, even though we've learned through this book the dangers of building your life around another person. At least Bria didn't make that same mistake again. While she extended her trip a little longer, she was firm on going back to start college. That was very cool of her. I hope everything works out with Rowan, Bria. Best of luck.
Wanderlove comes out March 13, 2012.