Published by HarperTeen on May 31st, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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.
Sometimes you just need something cute. After being sick for a week and falling slowly into a reading slump, I couldn’t help but order, receive, and then immediately read Wanderlost, which Christina was all atwitter about. This book is basically the perfect summer book: cute, sweet, funny, and full of European love.
Wanderlost is about Aubree, a recently graduated high school senior, who secretly takes over her sister’s position guiding a senior tour through Europe. Except, she doesn’t know anything about Europe. Actually, she’s just fine staying at home. But throughout her journey she discovers another side to herself, another side of the world, and – of course – a wonderful boy.
At first I was a bit hesitant with this book because I’ve had a Eurotrip book go totally wrong before, and Aubree, with her love of the familiar and fear of anything foreign, didn’t initially sound like a character I would like that much. But her voice has SO MUCH LIFE. She’s reluctant, yes, to go on her journey, but when she gets there, she discovers so many things to love. Every place she goes she decides it’s her ‘new favorite’. She also grows herself – from someone very dependent on others, reluctant to take action or responsibility, to someone who can stand on her own two feet. It’s not the biggest character growth arc ever, but it’s super on point.
The places she travels are just AMAZING. They start off in Amsterdam, then travel through Germany, to Salzburg and Vienna, Budapest, Venice, Monaco, and so many other places along the way. There are cheese and clog makers in Holland, kisses by canals in Venice, a Sound of Music tour around Salzburg… I want to TAKE this trip, srsly. As a European, I can vet for the cultural portrayals. As an American, I can vet for Aubree’s perceptions and impressions. Yeah, maybe the precise layout of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport wasn’t 100% correct, but these are things you only notice if you know a place by heart. Aubree’s open eyed and open minded as she takes everything in and sees the beauty in so much… except the food. She’s the pickiest eater and won’t eat the food. Mostly because of the strange names, as far as I can tell.
And, of course, the boy. The boy, Sam, is pretty darn great. He starts off as Aubree’s link to the travel organization, checking in on her each evening. She ends their first phone conversation by accidentally saying “loveyoubye” which is hilarious and adorable and so awkward but so ME. Then they have all of the banter and just can’t wait to continue their conversations every day. There’s so much cute here, I can’t even handle it. Although, with Aubree pretending to be her sister, there’s a fair amount of predictable drama as well. Lying never goes well. But though it was a bit cliché, the execution is still cute, realistic, and feelsy. I shipped it loads.
There are so many other lovely details to this book that made it really realistic and touching. Aubree’s relationship with her sister is strained, because Elizabeth doesn’t really believe in her – like she’s waiting for her to fail. So Aubree feels this angry urge to prove herself. I may relate to this a LOT. The senior citizens on the trip are honestly ADORABLE. I loved their sparkly personalities and the way that Aubree slowly but surely grew really close to them. Aubree’s mother is really overbearing, but there is a lot of love in that family. Honestly, one of the best parts of the book was the way the story was tied up in the end – not a sappy happily ever after, not a romance focus, but a focus on Aubree growing as her own person. A+ ending, would read again.