Kirsten Hubbard's Wanderlove completely blew me away. I started reading it late one night, thinking I would get in a few chapters before bed. At 5:30Kirsten Hubbard's Wanderlove completely blew me away. I started reading it late one night, thinking I would get in a few chapters before bed. At 5:30 am the next morning, I sat stunned by how much I loved this book. I must confess, I was a little afraid to try it at first. I somehow got the impression that this might be a sort of Eat, Pray, Love for teens - but I was very, very wrong.
It is easy to get caught up in the trite descriptions of what Wanderlove is: a coming of age novel, a travel book, a summer romance. It is all of these things, but so much more. Hubbard's writing possesses something that is hard to describe or define but is felt soul deep almost instantly. You feel what her characters feel, see what they see; the words disappear from the page as you find yourself transported into her world.
I love that each character has a voice that is authentically their own. I love that you are forced to get to know them on their own terms. I love that there is always a defined sense of place with each setting. I love that each place is allowed the same nuance that Hubbard affords her characters. I love that countries are not used as cheep backdrops for some privileged person's self discovery, but rather places full of people who actually live there. I love that Bria and Rowan are trying to escape themselves, but are not allowed to do so. I love that they learn to know each other before they start to like each other, much less love each other. I love that Hubbard never takes the easy way out of anything. I love that she surprises me. I love the way passion and art and purpose are all treated in the book. I love Hubbard's illustrations.
In Wanderlove, Hubbard does in one book something that many authors try and fail to do in trilogies or sprawling series: she allows her characters to bridge the gap between child and adult. Her characters go from externalizing blame to accepting responsibility for their actions. They accept that they have sabotaged themselves, but must forgive themselves as well. They learn that they must make things happen for themselves, rather than waiting for someone else; that "sometimes, what you love the most is what you have to fight the hardest to keep." I don't know what else to say but, 'read it'. You won't regret it.