An Unexpected Surprise | Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard

Friday, June 10, 2022

Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard

 Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Pages: 338
Source: purchased

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 to 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.
After her friends bail on her when they were supposed to go on a trip abroad, she decides to go it alone and join the Global Vegabonds, a traveling tour company. Except the Global Vegabond tour is not what she expected, a middle-aged tour group set on seeing the cliché tourist spots and nothing else. When she crosses paths with some backpackers, Bria decides to take the path less traveled—by tourists at least.

Healing Journey

  • The plot itself seems more of a journey or healing for Bria rather than the romance I was expecting which gives it a unique fresh perspective.
  • Hubbard is in fact a travel writer and that definitely shows within her writing. She captures the feeling within her pages. Her descriptions and the characters ring true, almost making it seem that this piece of fiction may be real life, in all its rawness; it’s a magnificent adventure.
  • All the characters are keeping secrets and as we get deeper into the plot, we become entwined with curiosity in knowing the truth of what these characters are running from. It’s a healing journey even if they don’t right away disclose the thing that is holding them back—their past. It’s a gorgeous story that deserves many readers.

An Unexpected Masterpiece

  • I absolutely adore the structure. It is broken down by the standard chapter which usually begins with a journal entry. It has several lists sprinkled throughout which definitely makes it a fun read. However, not only does the pages hold lists, but there are countless illustrations which certainly make the plot come to life.
  • When contemporary romance and travel mix, it is difficult to expect anything other than a cliché story but it was great to see a contemporary that is not busy flying around Europe. Rather Europe, we are venturing through South America. I think with the setting change, it gives the feel of something new entirely.
  • As you get deeper into the plot, the more the protagonist is revealed to us.  The more I felt connected to her. Bria was extremely relatable, filled with rare spunky moments and a courage that definitely blossoms as the plot goes on.
  • Rowen is a complicated character, which gives him great depth. A lot of times, he was hot and cold.  Readers were kept in the dark as to the reasons behind that which was true to life but it was also infuriating. He easily blurred the lines of good and bad, similar to people in real life where the line is never truly defined. It made me want to delve deeper into his past, his character.
  • The ending felt a bit rushed. Shouldn’t they have talked things out before going right into the make-up make out?
  • The story is a simple one but it will certainly enchant you from page one with its gorgeous descriptions and dialogue that jumps out at every page. It is a lovely story that is thought provoking on traveling the world, as well as how other people see travel.


Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard was an unexpected surprise. It was not the contemporary romance I was expecting, rather a healing journey through the less traveled spots of South America. It was a raw, true-to-life masterpiece that enchants the traveler’s mind.

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