AUTHOR: Kirsten Hubbard
RATING: 4 Stars
GENRE: Young Adult-Fiction, Romance, Travel
FORM: eBook, Netgalley, ARC
RELEASE DATE: March 13, 2012
SYNOPSIS: On a quest of self-discovery and independence, Bria decides to take a guided tour of Central America the summer after her senior year. She wants to use this time to really see the world, but also she is using it as a distancing tool from the betrayal of her ex-boyfriend, Toby, and her constantly fighting, under protective, not concerned parents. She has given up the one thing that makes her truly happy, art, so now she is out to have a great time and let loose a little. That was the plan at least. The discovery that her tour group is made up mostly of people in their middle-age or older who are constantly griping at and protecting her, is when her plan first starts to go out the window. She decides to take a step out on her own when she meets Starling and her very cute brother, Rowan, both of which are well-traveled experience backpackers. Stepping out, Bria gets the trip she was hoping to get in the first place, and with a travel companion who is just as bent on leaving his past behind him.
REVIEW: Reading books about travel, especially spontaneous and outrageous travel, makes me want to pack my bags and go. Through the eyes of Bria, even the bad and ugly seems to shine in a brighter, more attractive light. She is able to see the beauty of the world in practically everything, and living this trip through her voice was wonderful. The traveling, however, is only the surface of the book. Both Bria and Rowan are working through their own issues. No matter how much they try and keep their past lives from one another, little by little things slip out and start unraveling.
I loved Bria’s unwavering respect toward Rowan’s privacy. Even when she didn’t have much of a reason to trust him any longer, she still refused to let people talk about his past without his say so. I loved Rowan’s pension for quoting books he’s read. Both have let the world around them and their experiences impact who they are in away, that despite the issues and trouble they’ve been into in the past, I was almost jealous. I wanted to be one of them, and to see and experience the world like they do.
The conversations about judgment and being judged were impacting to me as well. Their conversations were mostly about travel; just because you’re a backpacker doesn’t mean that you’re poor; and just because you travel on guided tours doesn’t mean you aren’t well traveled. I think their opinions and conclusions are applicable in many areas. They were also very human about it as well. Even once reaching these conclusions about not judging, Bria still struggled with it, misjudging Starling from beginning to end.
Of course there is the budding relationship. I loved the pace that Bria and Rowan moved at. Both of them were going through some major healing, dealing with their own issues. I loved that much of that healing was done together, and that made their relationship seem all that more real and sweet.
WHAT I LOVED: Rowan and Bria were both down to earth, believable characters. They were easy to relate with. I know I wanted to be their friend, and to go backpacking with them for the rest of my life. I loved the descriptions of Central America as well, even the big nasty bugs didn’t seem all that bad.
NOT SO MUCH: I felt Bria’s water fear went a little bit too far. I got the impression that what made her not want to get in the water was a result of something that took place outside of the water, in a car. She gave into drawling again before she went into the water, and to me, art was a much bigger deal, it was her life and what brought her joy. It was the area in which she was attacked repeatedly in, and then in the end what sort of broke things in the first place.