Tuesday, March 13, 2012


WanderloveWanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

If right now, at age 35, I had to choose my nostalgia book of all times, I'd choose Wanderlove.
It was almost physically painful to read.
A forewarning though: if you are not the adventurous type, are not and never were interested in traveling with a backpack, but on the contrary think it's highly dangerous and unhygienic and are not interested in the nuances of this bohemian life, this might not be the book for you.

Bria Sandoval has just turned 18. It's the summer between her graduation and her college entry.
Only, there is no college. She has applied at the renowned Art School in California but, for some reason she is not going. Because you see, Bria is an artist who's lost the passion to draw. To make things even worse, she's just been dumped by her (artist) boyfriend, Toby.
In an attempt to snap out of this impasse, Bria decides to travel to Guatemala with a tourist group called Global Vagabonds. But once there, she meets Starling and her enigmatic brother Rowan, who convince her to ditch her group and her suitcase and travel with them as a backpacker for the remaining days of her holidays.
On the road from Guatemala to Belize, jumping from a chicken bus to a water taxi, lost in a market or simply lost in translation, Bria is forced to put to the test her confidence, her trust, her talent but most of all she will need face all her issues, free herself of her constrictions and of her past and just live in the moment.

The reason why I loved this book is pretty obvious: it took me back in time. The places were not the same but the narration has such an unmistakable taste of reality that I really connected. Clearly, the author is speaking from personal experience, or she wouldn't know about wrapping backpacks with garbage bags, chicken bus rides (my worst one was from Maracaibo, Venezuela to Barranquilla, Colombia) or describing a central/south American bus station so accurately. As a consequence of that, I connected well also with the characters, the "traveled" backpackers Starling and Rowan, for whom is valid the saying that "the smaller the backpack, the bigger the ego".
As for the MC, Bria, she is not very likable at the beginning. She comes out as a bit of a whiny, spoiled brat - though she kind of won me over with her "gutter water" Windbreaker - but she grows, she matures in the course of the story and, even though I wanted to kick her and her backpack straight into the Caribbean sea at one point, the dock scene with Rowan? What the heck was that about? Are you mad, girl? I took away half a star star only for that passage she eventually comes to her senses by the end of the book, making her a decent MC and a believable character.

I thought this book was really enjoyable, light but with a bit of depth - even social - and with a touch of exotic that makes it the perfect read for people who are looking for a bit of adventure, love, folklore and a well written story.
Oh, and I loved the illustrations by the author in the book, an added bonus that make this story even more dreamy.

My favorite quote, which is actually a quote within the quote:

" A painting doesn't have to have a profound meaning. It doesn't have to "say" something. We fall in love for simpler reasons."
Harley Brown


  1. I am so glad to hear a good review on this book. It's on my to read list. I love reading books about travel and dreaming that one day I'll get a chance to do the same, armchair travel is the best thing I've got right now. I can't wait to check this out!

    Caaleros :)

  2. I'll admit to never doing anything as cool as backpacking, so I have no clue why wrapping backpacks with garbage bags is important. :(

    But I want to know! I'm the semi-adventurous type, and this book just sounds fun! Oh, and I think I read somewhere that there are illustrations. I'm glad to know that Bria grows on you and she grows into herself.

    Fantastic review, Lisa! I know how wonderful it feels to read a book that takes you on a trip down memory lane. :)

  3. Physically painful Lisa? The thought of back packing is that what seems painful to you. I loved the line about kicking her butt and back pack into the sea. This sounds like quite the adventure book, one to read if you love scenery, which I do. I will have to check it out, plus if you gave it almost five stars it must be good.

    1. Heidi, you should shake hands with my buddy here, Maja. I think she'd rather eat dirt than going backpacking (oh wait, you might actually even eat dirt while backpacking). It's a lovely book, plus the romance is really sweet.

  4. Really wonderful review, Lisa. I'm almost sacred to come over to your blog now as I'm certain every time I do there will be one more book to add to the list! It's great to hear this book managed to transport you back to another time. I haven't actually travelled much but after all the great reviews I have read, I'm willing to give this a go! :)

  5. I've been hearing a lot of good things about this book. It really does sound pretty interesting, even though it's not really my thing, And the chicken bus! It's great that you find the book so authentic. (And holy crap, that is a long way to go on one of those things!) Great review!

  6. I've never tried backpacking and I'm not sure if I'll ever be willing to do that but I would love to travel more. So I'm really curious about this book, too bad I missed it on NetGalley.

  7. Lisa, your review makes me want to read this book and your convo with Maja in the thread of your Goodreads review makes me wish there was a reality show featuring the two of you. Big backpack vs big bottle of Domestos! :)


    1. oh come on, big backpack wins for sure!
      Germs aside, you should read this, it's very good.

  8. This was such an honestly beautiful review! <3 I keep hearing more and more about this book, and every little thing -- and every big thing, like your review! -- makes me want to read it even more! I'm probably not spontaneous enough to go on a backpacking trip on my own, but I would LOVE to read about it! And I'm really intrigued about the illustrations too! :)

    Beautiful review, Lisa! I'm glad you liked this book as much as everyone else seems to -- and I'm glad that Bria grows into a believable character in the end! ;)

    1. Thanks Mimi! I think you would like this book, the romance is sweet and it's pretty adventurous. Hope you can get a copy!

  9. Lovely review Lisa. Glad to hear the romance is sweet in this one. Sounds like Maja shouldn't read this if she wants to stay conscious, with the lack of hygiene that goes along with backpacking. :)

  10. Gorgeous review. I think I'm going to end up reading this one. I've alwas wanted to backpack around Italy or even more so, be a bit of a Nomad. I want to just pick up my life, go somewhere overseas, be a waiter or shopgirl or something, have a simple apartment, live there for a year, and if there's nothing keeping me there at the end of that year, I'll move somewhere else. Simple as that. But nothing is ever really that simple is it?

  11. I've heard good things about this book so thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to win this. :)

    PS. You blog header looks absolutely stunning!

    Irene (Pocket Knife Planet)


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