Wanderlove - Kirsten Hubbard Sadly, Wanderlove ended up being a disappointment for me. It seemed like a perfect combination: Central American jungles + Caribbean Sea + Mayan ruins + romance = great book, right? For the most part, each of these elements was individually great and they meshed well to create a nice traveler coming-of-age tale. What bothered me about Wanderlove was the voice of Bria, our 18 year old protagonist. Superficially, it seems like Bria should be amiable and relatable. She’s smart and kind but not in a superlative way; this girl, like everyone, has her flaws. Most of hers stem from a failed high school relationship that not only broke her heart but also stole her zest for life, particularly her passion for art. I was so ready to jump into Bria’s shoes, throw her backpack over my shoulders, and follow her adventurous tale of self-discovery…but then she just got really really annoying. Since Wanderlove is written in first person, we become privy to every single foolish thought and anxiety of our protagonist. I like damaged characters with fears and imperfections, but it becomes tiresome to read a never-ending log of low self-esteem and paranoia of outside judgment. If Bria had been presented as brimming with self-confidence, it wouldn’t have been true to her character, but I wish Hubbard could have presented Bria’s insecurities in a less pathetic way.Another problem with Bria and some of the novel’s other characters was their manufactured drama. I am so sick of unrealistic conflict that could be solved with a few words or a small dose of common sense. Much of Wanderlove ‘s plot revolves around the fledgling and troubled relationship of Bria and Rowan, her seasoned backpacker companion with a mysterious past. I disliked the plot’s focus on the relationship drama, mostly because I didn’t understand why any of the drama existed. For example, at one point Bria becomes angry at Rowan after he confesses to lying about the ability of lighting to strike boats in order to make her less scared during an ocean thunderstorm. I scoffed at Bria’s anger over this white lie since in no way did it harm her. If anything, Bria should be touched that Rowan cares so much to make her feel comfortable. It shouldn’t be an issue but non-sensical arguments over circumstances like this form the basis of their relationship, and consequently, the entire book. Bria repeatedly mentions how awkward their relationship is, but I didn’t feel it at all. Sure, they were still getting to know each other, but it wasn’t so bad! Most of the time they were joking, talking, and learning about each other. Their relationship is one of the more realistic ones in YA, but there was too much bogus drama. If you ignore the overblown interpersonal conflicts and Bria’s incessantly discussed insecurities, though, Wanderlove is good book. It explores issues often neglected in YA, like what to do if your boyfriend is a jerkface (many YA heroines see this as a good attribute), how to overcome past personal struggles, and how to determine who you want to be as you straddle childhood and adulthood. Hubbard has a much better handle on realistic teenage situations than many authors. Her characters swear, drink, do drugs, and have sex, just like normal teens. She found the perfect balance between over the top badassery and ludicrous conservatism. I think I most appreciated Wanderlove for the many fantasies it provided. The novel’s central theme is encapsulated in this Georgia O’Keefe quote that served as a chapter epigraph: “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” Like Bria and Georgia O’Keefe, I’d be scared to pack up for a solitary adventure in Central America. But after reading Wanderlove I really just want to go there and go other places, unpackage and travel the world like it’s a gift. I want to live in the moment.