Guest Review: Wanderlost – Jen Malone

Today on the blog we have a guest review done by Sarah (palmys05 on Twitter). Some of you have met Sarah and some of you may know her from social media. When we were at ALA together she mentioned she wanted Wanderlost so I offered to let her read it and review it on my blog. Here I give you here review!

Guest Review: Wanderlost – Jen MaloneWanderlost by Jen Malone
Published by HarperTeen
Published: May 31st 2016
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Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe. A romantic and charming YA debut perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Jenny Han.

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 lovely Andi asked me to review Wanderlost for her and I was so happy to take her up on her offer. 

Jen Malone’s Wanderlost was a just a feel good read.  It made me wistful and long for my semester abroad days in college.

Due to wacky hijinks, Aubree, a recent high school graduate who is babied by her parental units, winds up spending her summer vacation leading a group of seniors on a bus tour through Europe in place of her sister, Elizabeth.

The set-up to the tour was a bit clunky. After graduation, Aubree was hosting a party that got a bit out of hand while mom and dad were away.   Due to the noise, angry neighbors called the police. Aubree’s overachieving (and overbearing) older sister, Elizabeth, tried to diffuse the situation, which didn’t go over so well! Elizabeth ended up getting arrested and was unable to leave the country to lead the senior tour.  This tour guide position was supposed to be Elizabeth’s in to pursue a career in politics.  To save face, Elizabeth begged Aubree, a self-professed homebody with no desire to travel, to lead the tour as Elizabeth so that she could still get recommended for a desired internship.  WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

I hope I got that right….this set-up to the plot was just SO convoluted and ridiculous.  Anyone with Elizabeth’s smarts would have never gone with this plan or even thought it up in the first place.  I’m so glad I kept reading, but the whole beginning was a major turn-off.  If it had gone on much longer, it probably would have led me to DNF the book. The end result was adorable, but still, I wish the beginning wasn’t so plot pointy.

Now, let me get to the good stuff.  Aubree’s tour group was just delightful.  There was an outspoken couple from Texas who wouldn’t stop making out in the back of the van. Also, Emma and Mary, longtime best friends who wanted to see the world together, and Mr. Fenton, an adorable retired history teacher constantly sharing factoids about every spot they were seeing.   At first, Mr. Fenton seemed like he would out Aubree’s true identity to the rest of the crew, but he quickly befriended her which resulted in some great heart to hearts.  Rounding out the crew was Delores.  From day one, Aubree could tell she wasn’t enthused about being on the tour, but learned quickly that due to her connections, she was the one that needed to be impressed the most.  Aubree’s relationship with her tour group was a delight to read.  She both had to keep up the charade as Elizabeth, and be a responsible leader.  Both being stretches for her. She went from not wanting to leave Ohio to declaring every new city as her “favorite.”

Lest I forget to mention the adorable Sam.  As Aubree’s contact with the tour company in the states, Aubree talked to him on the daily.  This quickly led to phone flirting.  Aubree didn’t think twice about chatting with him as “Lizzie” since he was so far away.  When an emergency causes Sam to join their tour, Aubree must confront their attraction headfirst and wrestle with coming clean with him while lie after lie continues to pile.

I loved Aubree’s growth throughout the book.  She went from being dependent on her family, whiny, and entitled to resourceful, content, and eager to learn from her new surroundings and those around her.   The combination of Aubree’s character growth, her romance with Sam, and her relationship with her tour created a very sweet YA about finding yourself.

 

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