Wanderlost by Jen Malone
Publication Date: May 31st 2016 by HarperTeen
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance.
Find: Goodreads | Amazon
Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.
Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.
Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.
But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.
The concept of this book is definitely far-fetched. With her sister not being permitted to leave the state following an arrest at a party Aubree threw, Aubree finds herself spending the summer pretending to be her sister as a senior citizen travel guide in Europe. Yes, this plot is the definition of far-fetched but don’t let that put you off because that sense of adventure and character growth in this book is incredible.
Aubree is not one to take a lot of risks. She’s perfectly content to stay in her comfort zone in Ohio. There’s a security in creating that bubble, but with this turn of events and her summer being upended, Aubree is dragged out of her comfort zone out of a sense of guilt and obligation to her sister. It’s a daunting experience for someone that’s barely traveled beyond her state to be thrust into not just exploring Europe, but leading a team of senior citizens through these countries and keeping up the ruse. It’s easy to sympathise with Aubree, especially when the first stretch of her journey ends up in a bit of a mess. However, with a determination to prove her sister wrong, Aubree surprises herself in the way that she handles these situations. It’s tricky and not everything goes smoothly but she does the best she can and throughout the book we see Aubree grow in confidence, broaden her horizons and push herself to exploring the world beyond her comfort zone. Her character’s growth was very natural and consistent throughout the book.
Accompanying Aubree on this journey are our travelers and they were a delight. They all had such wonderful and vibrant personalities and really helped Aubree embrace her role and build that confidence in her. Yes, she may have been impersonating her sister but the person they came to know was Aubree through and through. The antics they get up together was a highlight and brought out a lot of laughs.
We can’t forget about Aubree’s final companion on this adventure, Sam. This guy was so sweet. He charmed me from the moment he entered the page. As the owners son, his job is to stay updated with all the happenings on the tours. That means that the initial interactions between him and Aubree all take place over the phone and the dynamic between them was adorable. The flirty banter and the general support Sam provides was so sweet. When he and Aubree finally meet, the chemistry is immediate. With this romance and Aubree’s growing confidence, she finds herself struggling to keep up this facade as she longs to just be honest with everyone. The unraveling of the facade is not an overly dramatic events, in fact, it became a necessity and the fallout was handled incredibly well.
If you’re craving an adventure then this book will drive your wanderlust wild. It was so easy to feel immersed in all the different setting and cultures. That is a testament to Malone’s writing and obvious understanding of the history, culture and general vibe from each country we visit. By the end I was ready to hop on a plan and set off on my own European adventure.
Overall, this book is perfect for anyone looking for a summer contemporary novel that unleashes that sense of adventure within you.