Release Date: May 31st 2016
Genres: Europe, General, Girls & Women, New Experience, People & Places, Social Issues, Social Themes, Travel, Travel & Transportation, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
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.
“But now that I see all this and realize I couldn’t even have dreamed any of it because it was all so far off my radar, I have this weird uncomfortable twinge in my chest. Because…what else haven’t I bothered to dream, not thinking things could get any better?”
WANDERLOST first piqued my interest when I read the synopsis. A girl gets (roped into) tasked with leading a group of seniors on a European bus tour, possibly finding love along the way? It sounds like it has two things I love: travel and the promise of romance. But while WANDERLOST met some of my expectations, it fell short on others.
As our main character, Aubree says towards the beginning, “There’s no way this could work.” She’s right. Suspend your disbelief because all the things that go down to make this story possible are a little farfetched and/or too convenient. It makes the setup for the actual plot feel a little messy and awkward. There are even a few opportune time skips that glaze over what might disrupt the plot. However, once everything gets going, the book continues at a pretty good pace without faltering again.
“I’ve tried flying now. And flying and I will not be achieving bestie status.”
Aubree is somewhat childish, naive, and hesitant when we first meet her. Her parents do everything for her and she is extremely dependent. Once she’s out on her own, she finally starts to grow up and come out of her shell, with the encouragement from others. By the end of the book, it is clear she has come a long way,
Speaking of the other characters, I quite enjoyed the seniors that were on the bus tour as well as the love interest. It was interesting to see how everyone slowly developed friendships, and possibly more. The couple in WANDERLOST was pretty cute, although it fit with the rest of the book in being somewhat unbelievable. (Eleven days just seems like such a short period of time!)
“I may be a bona fide high school graduate of all of six days,
but there are times a girl needs her snuggly.”
Aubree’s narrative voice is somewhat unique, her thought process was easy to relate to, although I did occasionally struggle with her. I think I may have been able to connect with her more if I was closer to her in age.
The writing really lacked descriptors. It was mostly ‘this happened and then that happened.’ Case in point, when Aubree sees her hotel for the first time: “I knew the bus tour would be first class all the way, but wow. The lobby looks like something out of a movie.” Okay, but what does it look like? This is Europe that you could be describing right now. How does the lobby look like it’s from a movie? Does it just look like a clean Best Western or does it look like a resort in Dubai? For a novel that had so much potential when it came to discovering and describing locations, it missed the mark.
Overall, WANDERLOST was a fun read. I would recommend it to fans of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS who wouldn’t mind the lack of descriptions, the addition of some memorable senior citizens, and a little humor.