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Review by Suze
Aubree loves being at home. She's comfortable living with her parents and has chosen to go to college close to her hometown so she can stay. She doesn't need to see anything of the world and is perfectly happy with the idea of spending a relaxing summer on their living room sofa. Her sister Elizabeth is the complete opposite, she's going away as often as she can. She is four years older than Aubree and she's striving to be perfect. She has a degree in politics and has carefully planned her future. When Elizabeth gets in trouble Aubree is the one who needs to save her. Elizabeth is supposed to be a tour guide for a small group of seniors. They will travel through several European countries by bus. She needs the job for her career that's supposed to start after the summer, but she isn't allowed to leave the country. Aubree has to step in and pretend to be her.
Aubree has never been abroad, she doesn't think she has leadership qualities and she messes up. Her sister is the successful one who thinks Aubree's just clumsy and she doesn't trust her. Aubree knows she can't fail, because her sister needs her. When she arrives in Amsterdam she loses her phone and binder with tour information even before she starts working. Aubree needs to be creative and she can only count on herself. She's abroad on her own and she's responsible for several seniors. Plus there's Sam, who's the son of the tour operator. His grandmother is on the tour as well. Aubree has to impress them for her sister's sake, but maybe she also wants to do something for herself. Being adventurous isn't so bad, especially not when it's with a cute guy. Only what will happen if her secret is no longer safe? Aubree wants Sam to know the real her, but she doesn't want to let her sister down. Who will she choose?
Wanderlost is a sweet romantic story. Aubree is adorable, she's kindhearted, a bit clumsy, creative and fun to be with. I love Jen Malone's sense of humor and laughed out loud quite a few times when I was reading this story. Aubree is brave, she tries to prepare herself as well as she can, she manages to get out of plenty uncomfortable situations and she discovers that she's actually good at things. She might not be her sister, but being herself is more than good enough. I loved that message and think it made the book really special.
Wanderlost is an easy and cheerful read. Sam has a warm personality, which makes everyone around him feel comfortable. From the moment he starts talking to Aubree he knows exactly what to say to her and I loved the lighthearted banter between them. Aubree manages to form a connection with everyone she meets and that is part of her charm. She's naïve and innocent, but she's smart and eager to learn as well. She's also resilient and manages to adapt quickly. That makes the story fast-paced and dynamic.
Every main character in this story is wonderful. The seniors are eccentric and they all have their own compelling stories and character traits. There's one couple that's absolutely hilarious for example. Two other people on the tour are so nice you'd want to adopt them as grandparents straight away. I loved the mix of old and young. It works very well and it gives the story a unique quality. The trip isn't without incidents and I couldn't wait to find out if Aubree would succeed. The ending is both sad and happy and I liked it a lot. Wanderlost is a fantastic sparkling summer read.