by Kirstin Hubbard
18-year-old Bria Sandoval has just graduated from high school, and already her life is not going as planned. Her parents are fighting a lot. Her boyfriend Toby has broken up with her. A talented artist, she has been accepted to the art school of her dreams, but she's decided not to go. Her friends bail on their planned backpacking trip. Bria then makes a life changing decision - she will still go on that backpacking trip to Central America, alone, in hopes of getting away from it all.
Arriving in Guatemala City, she is immediately
disappointed in her organized tour group and regretting every decision she's ever made. Then right in the airport, she meets a wild, adventurous girl named Starling and her younger half-brother, Rowan; experienced backpackers urging Bria to ditch her lame tour group and come with them instead. It's the perfect opportunity to do something she, and everyone back home, never thought she'd do.
As Bria joins them in their journey through an amazing part of the world, she realizes much about herself and what she's capable of. She can travel
alone. She can make new friends. She can lose her camera and it's not the end of the world. In fact, it ends up being a blessing in disguise, because it encourages her to return to her true love...drawing. Bria starts to draw things that catch her eye through her travels, things and people that touch her heart, and the experiences she doesn't want to forget. These illustrations are included through the book and add a beautiful, moving element to the story.
There is a romantic subplot with Rowan that is a real slow burn, and fits the story perfectly. Both characters evolve as they get to know each other better and understand their common desire to run away from their old lives, and to discover their true selves.
A teen recommended this book to me a few years ago, and it became one of
my most favourite books of all time. I hope that someone else enjoys it as much as I do!