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Blogger Nereyda Gonzalez for Lost in Young Adults

by Louisa Klein

Lost in Young Adults continues with an insightful review by blogger Nereyda Gonzalez of booksandsparkles.blogspot.com. This is a fun, crazy, SPARKLY blog,  full of interesting bookish stuff, you’d better not miss it! Here’s the review:

By Kirsten Hubbard
Release Date: 03/13/12
352 pages
Book Description from Amazon:
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.

***ARC provided by publisher for review***

I am in LOVE with this book!

Bria Sandoval has given up her opportunity to go to art school and her passion in life, drawing.  Her ex-boyfriend Toby, who is also an artist, was very critical about her art and manipulative about their relationship.  After their breakup, Bria decides she needs a change in scenery.  She chops off her long hair into a cute short haircut and she signs up with two of her friends to go on a tourist vacation to South America.  Her friends end up backing out but Bria is determined to go alone.  On the plane she meets a Starling, who is also going to South America on a backpacking trip.  When Bria arrives at the airport in South America, she is greeted by her tour group, The Global Vagabonds, which include mostly old people.  The tour group does everything in groups and when Bria meets Starling again, she convinces her to ditch the Global Vagabonds and go backpacking with her and her step-brother Rowan.
After only a couple days together, Starling has to go back to her humanitarian job and she leaves Bria with Rowan, a reformed backpacking bad boy with a wild past.  Bria is hesitant at first because she doesn’t really know Rowan and he has made it clear that he doesn’t want her to travel with them.  But she would rather spend time with him than go back to her tour group.  At first, Bria and Rowan are very awkward with each other.  They only have short conversations and both of them refuse to talk about their past.  They travel to different cities by chicken bus and water taxies and stay in hostels.  Slowly they start to let each other see sneak peeks from their past. But can they get over their trust issues and let go of the past before Bria’s trip is over? (I don’t want to give too much away about Bria and Rowan’s relationship because that’s what makes the book so great!)
As I’ve said before, I am in LOVE with this book!  Wanderlove is one of those feel-good books that make you wish the story would go on and on.  After reading this book, I felt like if I had just gone on an adventure with Bria and Rowan.  Bria, Rowan and Starling were such great characters and I felt like I could relate to them.  What makes this book so great is the fact that you can tell the author has gone to these same places and lived these great adventures instead of just getting information from Google.  I LOVED the slow build up to Bria and Rowan’s relationship, it made it that much more rewarding that they didn’t immediately jump into anything and took their time.  Oh and Kirsten Hubbard includes some of her amazing drawings that go along perfectly with the book.  Some of the drawings include Starling, Rowan and Bria herself.  With her amazing storytelling and drawings, Kirsten Hubbard is one incredibly talented author and I can’t wait to read more books from her!
I read a review on Goodreads that stated that “if you are not the adventurous type and are not interested in traveling with a backpack, this book might not be for you.” I am SO not the adventurous type, I don’t even really like camping and would much rather stay in a hotel.  Still, this is one my all-time favorite books!  Yes I loved reading about Bria and Rowan’s backpacking adventures, but what I really enjoyed the most was the their character progression and the beautiful love story between them.  I would recommend this book to everyone, even if you have never thought about taking a backpacking trip.  If you want to take a mini-adventure but don’t have the time or money, then pick up this book and dive into the world of Wanderlove.
5 out of 5 sparkly stars!
***Some of my favorite non-spoiler quotes from Wanderlove***
-I would do the last thing anyone would expect me to do:  I would go anyway.  Cue inspirational music.
-I want to argue that they don’t know anything about me-I am impulsive.  Didn’t I steal away to Santa Lucia?  Sprint off in Chichicastenango?  Journey to Central America in the first place?  I even almost ate a street cart tamale!
“Quanto queso?” I ask the vendor.
Rowan stares at me, obviously impressed by my Spanish fluency.  Except the fruit vendor is staring at me too.
“Oh,” Rowan says, starting to grin.  “You mean ‘Quanto cuesta?’”
“That’s what I-” I pause.  Oh no.  Oh God.  I totally asked, How much cheese?
-I watch him for a while, feeling sort of possessive.  Whatever Rowan’s been through in the years that separate us, now he’s just trying to be good.  It’s ironic, almost, that I’m trying to be the opposite.
-“Did I mention I love it when you talk about art?”
“You might have.”  I pull away clearing my throat.
-He’s shed his shirt.  I feel my breath catch, and this time.  I let it.

***Interview with Kirsten Hubbard***

1. Have you been to all the places that Bria visited in Wanderlove?
Yes. Well, a couple places in Wanderlove aren’t real places — but they’re based on real places I’ve been.
2. What are some major similarities and differences between you and Bria?
Let’s see. The way Bria feels about art is drawn upon my own feelings, one hundred percent. Her sense of humor’s pretty close to mine — I wrote what I thought was funny, and hoped you guys would too. She’s more daring than I was at her age. I wouldn’t have taken off abroad on my own. But in other ways, she’s more reserved than I am. I think I’m right in between Bria and Starling.
3. What is your all-time favorite place to visit?
Black Rock City, Nevada — the once-a-year city of dust and lights! Also, Caye Caulker, Belize is very dear to my heart.
4. Can you share a picture (of anything) from one of your recent trips?
Sure! I love photographing beach doggies. This one’s in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, from a couple weeks ago.
5. Traveling and drawing are such big factors in Wanderlove, how long have you been doing them?
I drew from the very beginning. I always thought I’d be an artist — so did my friends and teachers. The writing was secondary until I left for college, believe it or not!
I traveled some as a kid, but my first big trip was England, France and Spain the summer before my senior year of high school. It was a package tour group; I went along with some kids from my high school, but the rest of the tourists we met up with resembled a certain group in Wanderlove 🙂 My first backpacking trip was six weeks in Central America at age 20, which is when I fell deeply, passionately in love with travel.
6. Might we ever get to read more about Bria?
*shifty eyes* I don’t think I’d write a sequel, but there are books I’d like to write about other characters in the book… who just might cross paths with Bria at some point.
7. If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
Assuming things =/= people, or my dog… A tent. A bottle of Dr. Bronner’s. My laptop with a solar charger. Is that cheating?
8. I’m sure you’ve tried a lot of exotic foods, what is one food you would never eat?
Well, I’m a mostly vegetarian, and I haven’t eaten red meat in a decade. HOWEVER. This is because I have a choice. If the zombie apocalypse happened, I would eat anything. Except maybe that giant grub on that one disgusting episode of Man Versus Wild. It’s on youtube but I’m not linking it. You have been warned.
9. What is your guilty pleasure?
Coffee. I know, that’s boring. But it gives me migraines. Sometimes, I can’t resist.
Also, piercings. I have eight now! No tattoos.
10. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
When I was nineteen years old, I worked at Hooters. True story.
11. What are you working on next?
Revisions for a YA speculative fiction book. Really! Also, the first few chapters of a couple books mentioned in Question Number Six. And a middle grade book, too.
Thanks so much!

***About the Author***

A travel writer and young adult author, KIRSTEN HUBBARD has danced in a Serbian nightclub (self-consciously), been slapped in the face by a Thai monkey, discovered all manner of alarming insects in hostel beds (including tarantulas), and greeted the sunrise from atop the highest temple at Guatemala’s Tikal ruins. She prefers backpacks over suitcases, takes sketchbooks on every trip, and has served as the Guide to Central America Travel for About.com since 2006. She is also the author of LIKE MANDARIN, available from Delacorte Press. When she’s not off wandering, she lives in San Diego. You can visit her website at kirstenhubbard.com.

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