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Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Bria Sandoval thinks she’s ready to leave it all behind—her feuding parents, the ex-boyfriend she might not be over, dreaded plans for the future, even her best friends—when she decides to take a trip to Guatemala. She likes the idea of striking out on her own; it makes her think she can reinvent herself and be the girl she’s always wanted to be. But when she meets the rest of her tour group, a handful of middle-aged tourists, she realizes that reinvention is not included in the prepaid vacation package. Maybe that’s when she meets two backpackers, Starling and Rowan, and they invite her to travel with them, she has little hesitation in ditching her old group. She’s ready to live life off the beaten path, and no combination of jungle beasts, biting insects, and dirty hostel rooms are going to discourage her this time. But this kind of travel is so much different, and harder, than Bria would have thought. She’s not sure how to handle her growing relationship with Rowan, especially since he, like her, is trying to forget his past. Can they deal with the past by just moving forward? Or will they have to make peace with what’s past to have hope and courage for the future?

Wanderlove is a gorgeous tale of travel, love, and self discovery. It seems to me that Hubbard took a bunch of things that she dearly loves, especially stories, art, and travelling, and wrapped them into this perfect little package called Wanderlove. Her passion for each of these things clearly shines through her writing, with lush and vivid descriptions of new landscapes, people, and adventures, as well as her own illustrations. This is a story that I fell for little by little, first because of my sympathy for Bria and increasingly by the sense of freedom and wonder I got from being utterly clueless yet hopeful in a foreign place. I read this story for Bria’s inner struggles and character growth; the plot, despite the physical movement associated with travel, is much more internal. And I have to say that I liked it better that way because it made Bria feel much more dynamic and realistic. This story is an undoubtedly beautiful one whose rich details and settings are sure to infect and inspire every reader with a little bit of wanderlove.

Wanderlove will be enjoyed by fans of Don’t Stop Now by Julie Halpern and other road trip novels or anyone who’s ever wanted to travel.

Rating: 4.75

Review copy from NetGalley

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