Saturday, August 25, 2012

Books You Should Read: WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard

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. 

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry into this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.

Why You Should Read It:

With her debut novel, Like Mandarin, Kirsten Hubbard elbowed her way up on my list of Best YA Authors I've Ever Read. Wanderlove has assured me she's going to stay at the top of that list for a very long time. Not only are her characters achingly real and flawed, but her world-building is beyond detailed, and above all, tempting. Even when the going got tough for Bria, I wanted to be her. I wanted to go on the same exotic adventures, eat the same foods, drink in the same landscapes, and hang out with the same backpacker/prankster guy. 

Trust me. You'll love him, too.

Art plays a huge role in Hubbard's sophomore triumph, both for Bria's character development and for the book itself--it contains beautiful drawings straight from Hubbard's own hands. For Bria, art is a painful reminder of everything that went wrong in her life. She can't bear to pick up a pencil and just go for it. I think this will not only resonate with teens struggling with accepting themselves, but with authors as well. Art is a very personal endeavor. Letting others in is scary, but worthwhile in the end. I applaud Hubbard for including her artwork, which I hope YA readers will fawn over just as much as I did. But, of course, I hope they fall in love with Bria and her oh-so-funny-yet-heartbreaking voice. Along with the lush settings, it's what carries the story. 

Oh, and that backpacker/prankster guy? One of the most realistic depictions of a dude I've seen in YA. 

*bows down to Kirsten Hubbard*

Make sure you pick up your copy of Wanderlove, which is on sale now!

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