Serious Case of Wanderlust | Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Friday, June 07, 2019

Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 5/31/16
Pages: 321
Source: purchased

Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe. Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe. Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story. But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.
Aubree has always been happy staying right at home. It has always been her sister who goes to far away places. But when Elizabeth, Bree's sister, can't make her promised engagement—being a tour guide in Europe—she comes up with a master plan. Bree must go in her stead and pretend to be Elizabeth. However, when Bree meets the boy of her dreams, can she keep her true identity to herself or will she blab at the first opportunity?

Aubree: Relatable Yet Amusing

  • Aubree is constantly ratting herself out, feeling less capable than her "almost-perfect" sister. It's completely normal to feel like the older sister can do no wrong. I don't completely understand that notion as I am the older sister in my family but that is the dynamic going on in Wanderlost. And as much as I do believe it is normal in some sister relationships, I definitely couldn't relate to it. Aubree and Elizabeth's sisterly relationship is super shaky. I can't imagine living under the same roof as a sibling my entire life and not knowing each other at all. Aubree keeps mentioning how far apart four years is between her and her sister. However, I don't think that is that far apart (my brother and I are five years apart and we are friends). In the beginning, the whole sister relationship seems so strange to me.
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  • As much as I can't relate to Aubree's relationship with her sister, I can definitely relate to her as a character. She's the awesome side of everyone. I found her sarcasm to be spot on. Not only is she hilarious but she's got spunk that will definitely remind you of yourself. Everything in her character is on point.
  • Elizabeth comes up with this plan. And here she is, she is supposed to intelligent and awesome—and basically the epitome of put-together. Her plan is far from foolproof. The moment she explained it to Aubree, I knew something was going to go wrong. Either I was right or I am just pessimistic like that. Or both.
  • And by wrong, I was so surprised when no one seemed to mention that Bree is committing crimes left and right. She is too young to drink in Europe. She is using her sister's passport at every ID checkpoint. This girl is going to be in trouble with the law.


  • I love everything wanderlust. I have a serious case of wanderlust myself. I even have my own wanderlust bookshelf which consists of amazing adventures like Flirting in Italian, Love and Gelato, Meant to Be, and Just One Day. I was so happy when I came across this majestic book. And Wanderlost turned into everything I could have hoped for.
  • If you want to get technical, we have seen this plot before. Wanderlost and a lot of other similar books rely on cliché ridden plots to continue. And they do so because these clichés work. Yes, at times they can be super predictable but that doesn't make them any less fun. When I first picked up the book, all I could think about were the similarities it had to the movie, My Life in Ruins. The movie holds many components Wanderlost had: a bus tour through Europe, a wise old man, and a bus driver who doesn't speak much English. However, despite its similarities, I think they complement each other well (even though, I am sure that was not Malone's intention). After reading Wanderlost, be sure to watch My Life in Ruins.
  • Aubree happens to complain a lot, but considering her situation it makes perfect sense. It is what makes her so human, I suppose. However, I am incredibly glad that she does take the time to appreciate her surroundings. The tour through Europe is not totally wasted on her and we get to see Aubree fall in love with traveling.


  • What kind of YA travel romance would it be without the romance part? It is kind of instalove-ish. What started out as flirtatious phone conversations quickly became an instalove, where instead of focusing on learning more about the other person, let's just make out all the time. The scenes they share—where they are not making out—are undeniably cute with a quick banter back and forth. It is easy to see how fast they could have fallen for each other but less than two weeks! Isn't that a bit fast?
  • Oh, my gosh, though. Sam is such a dream guy. He is understanding, flirty without being creepy, and super cute. His character's charisma is certainly contagious which will definitely leave a smile on your face as you're reading.

An End to Remember

  • The ending came too fast! Also, it felt a bit too abrupt but no less realistic. However, the direction in which the ending headed was perfectly believable.
  • Despite the ending being too abrupt, it didn't turn out to be the 24/7 romance you would expect. It wasn't about the romance at all, but more about Bree's development and her going into the unknown all by herself. That is most definitely not something she would have done in the beginning of the book. Jen Malone could very well give us a sequel (please!) as I believe she left it open for a new chapter in Bree's life that I definitely would love to explore.
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Wanderlost by Jen Malone is a gorgeous trip into the unknown with a character who wants anything to just stay at home. Malone places the perfect amount of humor, travel, and romance to create a beautiful read for those suffering from wanderlust.

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