Wanderlost by Jen Malone
Published by HarperTeen on May 31, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352 – paperback & ebook
Format Read: paperback ARC
Rating: 4 stars
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.
Many thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.
When I first read the premise of this book, my first instinct was to roll my eyes and think “Yeah, totally, that’s so plausible.” A minor leading a senior group on a tour around Europe as a replacement for her older sister who was arrested, and as a result, grounded? Uh, yeah, sureee. I soon realized that if you just roll with it and continue reading, you’ll find that it isn’t much of a deterrent after all. So in this review, I’m going to put aside all my doubts & opinions about the implausibility of the premise just because the rest of the book was enjoyable enough to nullify that flaw.
Let me tell you, Wanderlost was a very adorable, cute, fluffy, charming read. Adorable, cute, fluffy, charming reads are my favorite kind of reads! I flew through this book and I was so sad to see it end. Aubree was an amazing heroine. I loved how she a) stepped out of her comfort zone and b) managed to handle everything that got thrown her way. She didn’t do it perfectly, of course. She fumbled her way through and messed up quite a few times, but in the end she still persevered — with the help of her friends and family. Her relationship with her sister was emphasized in this book, and it was such a pleasure watching them try to reconnect & fix this relationship.
This wouldn’t be a contemporary review if I didn’t talk about the romance. The romance in this book gave me soo many heart palpitations. I could swoon over Sam for hours on end. From the moment we are introduced to him, he is charismatic, charming, and funny. His lines had me grinning widely at the page… like a goof. He’s definitely my favorite character in this book. What bothered me, however, was how Aubree still wouldn’t tell him her secret. He was so nice and charming and an overall good guy that I knew what Aubree was hiding would hurt him very much. I was practically screaming at her to just tell him!!! Still, their relationship was truly something to read. It had its bumps along the road (see what I did there), but in the end, their pull toward each other was just too strong. All the feels, man.
Another thing that I really admired about this book was the way the senior characters were written. I’m so glad they weren’t just a bunch of wise, warmhearted, wool-knitting grandparents, because that’s usually the way old people are written in books. They all had realistic personalities and were extremely dimensional, encompassing all the flaws and shortcomings of a normal person. I was actually able to connect and care about every single one of the group.
The setting of this book was breathtaking. The descriptions of the different countries in Europe the group group visited made me want to go there myself. I can understand why Aubree fell in love with every place she visited. The writing made me easily picture Aubree there with Sam, leading the tour group and having adventures together.
In short — ignoring the plot holes & inconveniences that this story presents — this was an extremely adorable book with excellent writing and lovely themes. The dynamic characters and swoon-worthy romances are an added bonus! Still, there are quite a few flaws, but the story’s overall enjoyableness definitely negates them. A perfect summer read with just the right amount of adorableness!
Rating: 4 stars