“One day I’ll catch up on all my book reviews” *somewhere out there book publishers laugh maniacally*. Not like I read this book in July or anything. Not like it’s basically February already.
Just a little secret for you all: February is my favorite month because Valentine’s Day. So be prepared for a month full of cheesy, cute, romance filled book discussions and lists and reviews. This is the one month I allow all my love for love to spill out, and you will all be getting the brunt of it. To kick off the month I’m reviewing Wanderlost, which I actually truly loved more than I expected. So be prepared.
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.
First thing I loved: It’s set in Europe! And this book gives SUCH travel envy. All the locations are described with such detail and the whole bus tour sounds so fun. Also, who doesn’t want to travel across Europe with a cute boy???? Add in that the two of you are the only people in your tour group under the age of 60 and you have yourself some romance on its way.* The plot was also very fast paced. Even though you get the wonderful settings and character development, Jen doesn’t skimp on the plot, leaving you breathless. There was EVEN a plot twist I did not see coming. WOAH. It brought some darkness and reality to this sunshine and happy book.
*But like…if someone wants to find me a cute boy to travel across Europe with…I wouldn’t object…
While this book is about a European tour, and is about romance, the heart of it is about Aubree. It’s a coming of age novel at its finest, just in Europe.
I had a love-hate relationship with Aubree*. She always feels like she’s living in the shadow of her older sister, Elizabeth, and has such a low self confidence. But I related to her in such a deep way. That feeling of not being capable and not living up to someone’s expectations is something that hits me hard. But there’s the small, tiny, fact, that she lied about who she was. Even when she gets to know Sam better, she continues lying. He believes her to be Elizabeth, and when they start to fall in love, its under false pretenses. While I semi-understand why that had to happen, because otherwise Aubree would be kicked out and Elizabeth was all in need and etc., it still frustrated me. Aubree’s character development, though, was top notch. I loved seeing her come into herself and was thoroughly rooting for her.
*Actually, now that I think about it, it was more LOVE LOVE LOVE with a little whisper of hate in there.
A frustrating character: Elizabeth. WHY DID SHE HAVE TO BE SO PERFECT ALL THE TIME AND SO BAD TO AUBREE. She wasn’t trying to be bad, but just would only talk about herself and placed her problems on a higher level than Aubree. And she didn’t even notice just how much Aubree needed to talk to her. And she constantly looked down on Aubree and I just wanted her to realize how capable she was.
But Sam. He was such a cute little mush! He was goofy, and understanding, and totally and completely a sweetie. And just what Aubree needed to bring her out of her shell and show her how great she is. Even though their relationship does move pretty fast in the beginning (struck by a little instalove, perhaps?), it didn’t annoy me. And trust me, I am almost ALWAYS annoyed by instalove. BUT THE TWO WERE JUST SO ADORABLE TOGETHER. And the romance never really took precedent over Aubree’s character development, which I appreciated.
A group of characters I was NOT expecting to love, and I really did: All the elderlies. WHY WERE THEY ALL SO CUTE. Even though some were a little grumpy, they were all so much fun. I never realized how fun they could be until reading this book! I mean, what a fun way to travel across Europe.
Final thoughts: This book is such a light and breezy read. The writing and plot is nice and fast paced that you can read it in one day. Really, if you are searching for an adorable contemporary story, I found you one. If you are looking for a book to travel vicariously through, look no further!
Where would you most like to travel to? What’s your dream book setting?