It's YA Book Club time again! In February we read the club's first contemporary YA selection, The Fault in Our Stars. (Actually, I read it in January and posted here, but of course I had more to say.) As always, thanks to Tracey for founding the club and organizing the blogosphere meetings. This month we read Wanderlove.
|Isn't the cover wander-lovely?|
Wanderlove is the perfect book to read when you aren't traveling. (Okay, it's perfect to read any time, because it's very good, but stay with me here.) That's because the setting is so richly drawn and such a major part of the book that reading it is like backpacking vicariously. The descriptions were so vivid that, while reading, I swear I wasn't on the crosstown bus but a chicken bus, heading toward the Caribbean (one of my favorite places on Earth) and not the East River. I felt so transported to Central America that I wanted to send a postcard home from my armchair.
I could try to retell all the places I loved visiting through Wanderlove, but my descriptions couldn't do justice to Kirsten Hubbard's. For example: "I toss down my daypack, spread my towel, and for the first time, stick both my feet in the Caribbean. It's warm. Crabs skitter sideways over the sand, and spear-shaped predator fish hover over clouds of minnows. Green ribbons of sea grass sway in the current. Farther out, it looks like someone's swirled a turquoise-tipped finger across a canvas of deep blue." (p. 208) I loved how she wove meticulous details of the setting into a perfectly-paced plot. Which isn't to say that the pace was fast. Like the trip the story follows, the pace was sometimes fast and sometimes a nice beachy-lazy and just like a good vacation, it was over well before I wanted it to be.
It was great to read the setting's effect on the characters and plot. In flashbacks or her memories, Bria is a very different person in LA than she is in Laughingbird Caye. Watching the scenery change as she grows made her arc believable and sometimes moving. The course of the trip and that scheduled flight home created realistic stakes and the unfamiliar environment added tension, especially to the romance between Bria and Rowan. Who doesn't love a travel love story?
The romance and story of self discovery at the core of Wanderlove would've worked fine if the only setting was an LA high school. But by placing the characters in jungle and on the beach, Kirsten Hubbard really elevated Wanderlove to someplace special. This is a love story about two people, but also a love story about travel.
PS: Almost as much fun as reading the book is visiting the book's Tumblr and gushing over the travel photos: (http://wanderlove.com/)
So, what did you think? Were you as captivated as I was by the setting?