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.
I absolutely love the premise of this novel. I have some wanderlust myself (but was never brave enough to backpack anywhere), so everything about this novel called to me. I loved how Bria thought she was going to be part of this group of beautiful young people and ended up on a tour filled with old people. Can't you totally imagine this happening? Isn't that like one of our worst fears about a tour like that?
Anyway, I also loved how we gradually unraveled the pain Bria carries with her. And her mistakes. Bria grows so much during her two weeks abroad, but in a very realistic way. We gradually see her forced out of her protective wall and learn to take control of her own life (and fate).
Better yet, her adventures along the way are awesome and authentic. Having read this after I just returned from Belize, I recognized so many of the placed described in the novel. And the author's/Bria's illustrations (like a sketch book), just add to the feeling that you're really on this trip with Bria.
Last, I enjoyed the slowly-developing relationship between Bria and Rowan. This novel was not your typical girl and boy are instantly drawn to each other the moment they lock eyes love story. Their relationship happened organically and believably.
If you enjoy realistic contemporary fiction, with a bit of travel and self-discovery, I highly recommend Wanderlove. Enjoy!!