Burned by art school applications and a toxic ex-boyfriend, Bria Sandoval is eager to leave her old life behind. Her salvation comes in the form of Global Vagabonds, a Central American guided tour group that she has signed up for…until she arrives and discovers that her fellow travelers fit more into the flabby fanny-pack wearing mold.
Enter Starling and Rowan, the intrepid backpacking siblings who take Bria under their wing in the nick of time. Rather than wasting away in overly-planned activities with the middle aged, Bria instead finds herself falling head over heels into the backpacking culture and Rowan’s personal what’s-in-the-past-stays-in-the-past philosophy. Trekking through jungles, staying in noisy hostels, and discovering Mayan ruins feels worlds apart from Bria’s unsatisfying life back home, and she begins to enjoy her adventures off of the beaten path. As a bonus, her budding romance with mysterious Rowan is both realistic and terribly sweet.
Even so, not everything comes easy for Bria on her quest for self-discovery. Will her newfound global vagabond ways be enough to heal her broken heart and reconnect her with her artwork? Will Rowan’s not-so-pleasant past come back to haunt him? Will those two crazy kids end up together, or what?
An excellent coming-of-age story as well as a richly rendered travel narrative, Bria’s journey will leave readers longing to set off for places unknown. 352 pages. Ages 14 and up
Recommended by Molly Crumbley, Librarian, Maryland, USA.