Monday, December 24, 2012

BOOK BLURB: Wanderlove

Author: Kirsten Hubbard 
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 338
Date Published: March 13, 2012
First Published: March 8, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary


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.

My Thoughts:
(Date Read: September 6, 2012)
A few of the reasons why I really enjoyed and loved Wanderlove:
1. The Setting. That's number one for me. The way the story was told, it's like you've been transported instantly to Central America, feeling like a backpacker yourself.
And for me, there's also that tug of similarity between the society there and the society I've grown up with, like the crowded streets with a lot of street food vendors (which of course hasn't really been inspected by the Department of Health in terms of the hygienic preparation of the food), the sweaty bus ride experiences (where only half your butt can actually sit), the stray dogs (some aren't that really friendly), marijuana and dengue, the casual theft and muggings, etc...Basically, I just love how truthful and realistic the setting is. Central America's true colors hasn't been cloaked. And though I've never really been there, it feels like I was traveling with Bria.
2. The Plot. Two different people brought together either by fate or by coincidence. A good girl who wants to prove that she can jump in in whatever without any hesitation, and a reformed boy who wants to prove he has really changed and can be trusted. Both of them running from something and never want to look back.
Although a few people may think that the plot is somewhat a cliche, in the sense that good girl meets bad boy in an out of the country trip, I actually liked it. It didn't bore me at all. It was just at the right pace - not fast and not that slow either. It was simple, but had a lot of life's truths in it. I don't really know how to explain it, but I guess it's safe to say that it was as if it was real - all their dilemmas and how the characters reacted and behaved. It's like your friend telling you what happened to her on her trip to another country.
3. The Sketches. Beautiful sketches by the amazing author herself! I may not be an artist and my judgements regarding artworks may not be as good as pros, but I think the drawings were really wonderful. They add more magic to the reading experience
4. The Element of Unexpectedness. This is not entirely about the book per se. It's also about me (the reader). I actually just picked this out randomly without reading any reviews or anything. I thought it was going to be that "just okay" book. Turns out it wasn't, and I really liked it. I like being surprised by books.
There are actually a lot more to love in the book, like the characters, the places, and story-telling. But these are the things that really caught me when I read it. On that note, this simple review is a about to end. Let me leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book.
"What everyone forgets -- even me -- is the people who actually live here. In places like Central America, I mean. Southeast Asia. India. Africa. Millions, even billions, of people, who live out their whole lives in these places -- the places so many people like us fear. Think about it: they ride chicken buses to work every day. Their clothes are always damp. Their whole lives, they never escape the dust and the heat. But they deal with all these discomforts. They have to.

"So why can't travelers? If we've got the means to get here, we owe it to the country we're visiting not to treat it like an amusement park, sanitized for our comfort. It's insulting to the people who live here. People just trying to have the best lives they can, with the hands they've been dealt.”

February 2016 Update: This 2012 review has been somewhat updated to suit the format and the layout of the blog. No major change has been made with my review. The thought, and most of the words I used back when I wrote this review is still the same. Only some minor editing, like deleting unnecessary words, phrases, expressions and emoticons.

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