Author: Jen Malone
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram
Publisher: Harper Collins, Harper Teen
Publication date: May 31st 2016
Source: Harper Collins Canada (thank you!)
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.
Review: Wanderlost by Jen Malone
You guys. Wanderlost by Jen Malone is this summer’s perfect beach read.
You know the one I’m talking about. The book that has you racing through from page one, whipping through as fast as you can, falling so hard and fast for the heroine, the journey, THE BOY.
The book that takes you on an adventure so compelling that you don’t notice that the sun is setting until your mom shakes your arm and tells you it’s time to go.
The book that you read in the car going home and long into the night because you can’t-stop-won’t-stop until you reach the perfect, inevitable conclusion that has you sighing and sending heart-eyes emojis to all your friends, telling them they MUST READ THIS NOW.
Yeah, that was Wanderlost for me.
Let’s backtrack: Aubree Sadler is a disorganized klutz and a bit of a flake. She’s a girl who has never dreamed bigger than her own hometown and friends, and why should she? She has great friends and a perfect older sister, Elizabeth, who wants to become a politician – and she’s kind of decided that it’s okay to be just average. Aubree is perfectly content to spend her last summer before college hanging out with her friends at home before they all take off across the States to their universities while she stays home.
Of course, that plan is totally derailed when Aubree accidentally gets Elizabeth into trouble, and ends up having to take over Elizabeth’s summer job: being the tour guide on a seniors trip all over Europe. While faking that she’s Elizabeth.
Ok, let me say this: the conceit of this whole book is kind of silly. And far-fetched. I really don’t believe that the girls could have pulled this off. And some of the decisions that Aubree initially makes when she gets to Amsterdam? Still far-fetched.
But here’s the thing: I stopped caring about some of the less plausible aspects within the first 20 minutes of reading because Jen Malone has written such distinctive characters and such a strong journey for Aubree.
From her initial flakiness to her realization of who she can be, from her weird way of taking coffee to her utter lack of interest in trying foreign foods, Aubree was just so darn real to me. I can’t say I fully identified with her – I’m definitely more adventurous than she is – but I GOT her. And I think that’s because Malone worked so hard to do two things: 1) make the banter super funny and cute (seriously, guys, I snort laughed a tone of times while reading), and 2) make Aubree’s good points just as hidden to the audience as they were to Aubree herself. Just as we discover Europe with Aubree, we discover Aubree with Aubree, and that self-discovery is so fun and sweet and wonderful to behold. This is a girl who could barely stand the idea of leaving her hometown, and to see her thrust into Europe and falling in love with not only the cities, but also with her tour group and who she is outside of her home…that was everything.
Oh wait. Not everything. Because the romance in this book, guys….HOLY SWOON. Sam, the guy who calls to check in on Aubree from the tour company, is a flirty, cheerful, adorable human and it’s amazing to see their sweet romance unfold. I don’t want to tell you ANYTHING about it because it’s all so fun, but TRUST ME when I say that this is a book boyfriend you need to meet.
Heart-Squeezing Romance: It just made me so darn happy. And shippy. SAM + AUBREE 4EVA.
Book Boyfriend Alert: SAM. I’m trying not to spoil anything, but let’s just say that he’s funny and silly and worldly and he’s basically THE BEST.
Best Senior Citizens Ever: Speaking of the best, the people on the tour group that Aubree guides? SO AWESOME. This book was a great reminder of how much we sometimes underestimate our grandparents.
I Want to Go To There: I haven’t been to all the places that Aubree visits but man, my wanderlust is peaked. Also, my favorite city in the world is Vienna, so I totally know how she feels about it.
Book Theme Song:
This song – and the whole movie – plays a big role in the book. Aubree is a huge Sound of Music nerd and this song completely embodies the transformation we see in her.
What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, what’s the matter with me?
I’ve always longed for adventure
To do the things I’ve never dared
Now here I’m facing adventure
Then why am I so scared?
Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries
If I don’t I just know I’ll turn back
I must dream of the things I am seeking
I am seeking the courage I lack
And mind me with each step I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence the world can all be mine
They’ll have to agree I have confidence in me
The Final Word:
I rate books based on not only my own enjoyment, but also how well I think the author has achieved his/her goal. And Wanderlost blew me away on both counts. Jen Malone has written the cutest, sweetest YA contemporary about a girl who needs to get lost to get found. While it is definitely fluffy, it’s a book that dares its reader to take big risks like the main character – and the perfect read for dreamers. Put this in your beach bag or bring it on a road trip – basically, anytime you need a fast, fun read, a smile and a reminder of what’s good in the world.
WANDERLOST is out in bookstores now. Will you be reading it? Are you a beach reads person? Or just a fluffy contemporary person? Let me know in the comments!