Wanderlove, I can tell that she has traveled widely and on a budget. In my eight years of living abroad, I did my share of backpacking and also led semester-long experiential education trips abroad. We may have even crossed paths in Central America.
Wanderlove's main character, Bria, decides to go on a group tour of Guatemala when her boyfriend breaks her heart and derails their plans to attend art school together. As soon as she meets her group, full of unadventurous adults, she realizes she has made a mistake. A chance encounter with Starling and Rowan, effortlessly cool backpackers, leads to her ditching the group and learning what travel is really about. Along the way, she experiences romance, adventure, and self-acceptance.
Hubbard nails the backpacking lifestyle, from typical hostel antics to the posturing of 'trustafarians'--kids using their trust funds to support their bohemian lifestyle. I loved the characterization of Bria, someone who is aware that the dreadlocks, toe rings, and flowy clothes are costumes, but is still desperate to give them a try. Her excitement and self-consciousness make me remember why I loved leading students on trips; everything is thrilling and every day holds myriad possibilities.
The novel held some surprises for me: plot twists that I didn't see coming and predictions that fell flat. Between this and Like Mandarin, I am officially a massive Kirsten Hubbard fan. Since the book is written as artistic Bria's travel diary, it is full of sketches that Hubbard drew. Where was I the day they were handing out talent? Get this book and be inspired to strap on a backpack and hit the road.