February “Recommended by…” Part Two

February 28, 2014 "Recommended by...", Book Review 0

“Recommended by…” is a monthly feature in which an awesome bookish person recommends a book that I just have to read. It’s posted in two parts. Part one is the intro to the recommender and the recommendation. Part two posts later in the month and recaps my thoughts on the book. 

This month’s recommendation was from the epically awesome Lisa from Lisa is Busy Nerding. You should totally check out her blog and follow her on twitter for awesome nerdiness and fangirling. Clearly we get along! For her recommendation Lisa picked Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard. 
About the Book: 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 to 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.

My Thoughts: How had I not already read this book? It’s perfect for me! (sidenote: Sheesh! Lisa sure knows my reading taste!) I mean, not only is it a travel story… it takes place in Central America! I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before on the blog but I spent the summer of 2005 in one of my all time favorite places… Costa Rica! I was volunteering and studying Spanish. Of course there were weekend trips to explore the country as well. It remains one of the best experiences of my life. Wanderlove brought so much of that back.
Bria and Rowan were such interesting characters to me. I loved learning more about their histories, piece by piece. They are so very different yet they understand each other. I was caught up in getting to know them while they got to know each other!
The travel aspect was certainly my favorite part of the story. I was so like Bria when I first arrived in Costa Rica. I had a suitcase full of all the things I was told to bring. I had so much to learn! How to hail a taxi (and tell a legit one from a random guy in a car trying to make a buck!), what to eat and what to stay away from, how to not buy from every vendor I accidentally made eye contact with, using local public transportation, SO MUCH TO LEARN! And there were certainly times I was scared. But, like with Bria, it got easier. Things that seemed so daunting were second nature by the end of my trip.
Wanderlove made me feel the sense of pride and accomplishment that came with mastering life in a different country all over again. Bria’s story and, ultimately, transformation grabbed my attention and never let it go. I loved following her adventure and seeing the images that captured parts of it. This is certainly a book for anyone ever bitten by the travel bug. I can’t decide if I want to thank Lisa for making me read it or shake my fist because it made me miss Costa Rica so much! 

And because this book had me thinking about my trip here are a few pics. Sorry they’re not clear. I can’t find the files so they’re photos of a photo book!
Santa Elena Cloud Forest

Working with students in La Carpio, a slum of San Jose

Traveling on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica

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