For me, standing on the cusp of high school/college was like staring down a complex mathematical formula. Everyone else seemed capable of solving it–why wasn’t I? In the end, I made so many mistakes that I finally just closed my eyes and picked one of the multiple choice answers. C–isn’t the answer always C?
Kirsten Hubbard’s WANDERLOVE deals with some of these same issues. Bria has made plenty of mistakes regarding her future, and she doesn’t see where she can go from there–if anywhere. I instantly related to that lump-in-throat feeling of having exhausted all of your options and being left with nothing. Not because of happenstance or money or any of the other understandable reasons that things get screwed up–but because you did it to yourself. It was your own decisions that made you fail, and that’s probably the hardest thing to accept.
Throughout the book, Bria struggles to find herself and a huge part of that includes making her own decisions. Some of them are good and some of them are bad. I loved that Hubbard didn’t allow things to just happen to Bria. Bria was an active participant in her decisions, for the most part, and she owned them. If she chose to sit in the background while others went skinnydipping, or dance with some creepy drug dealer, she went for it.
And of course, you can’t really discuss this book without talking about the setting. All of the locations had a sort of high-definition quality, made brilliant from the sum of their well-crafted details. I wanted to be there at Livingston and Lake Atitlan–which is sort of funny, since I’ve never been huge on Central American settings. It’s just not a place I “get,” for some reason. Probably mostly because the foreign creepy-crawlies freak me out. I have some anxiety issues. It’s true. That’s why, as told, I did not look up botfly larvae. And I never will.
But one of the things that appealed to me the most about this book was the journey. I was surprised, because I usually identify the most with the love subplots. Rowan was adorable, but his guardedness made it hard for me to fall for him. I’m glad that their love wasn’t instantaneous, and it was certainly sweet and a bit melty at times, but Bria’s introspection was really what hooked into me the most.
You know the platitude: Life is a journey, not a destination. Hubbard captured that feeling in WANDERLOVE. Bria is not changed because she reached a certain place–she’s changed because of all the moments in between that got her there.
See what other people thought over at Tracy Neithercott’s YA Book Club! 🙂