Friday, April 28, 2017

The Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson, 2017

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Riya and Abby are:
Best friends.
Complete opposites.
Living on different continents.
Currently mad at each other.
About to travel around Europe.

Riya moved to Berlin, Germany, with her family for junior year, while Abby stayed behind in their small California town. They thought it would be easy to keep up their friendship-it's only a year and they've been best friends since preschool. But instead, they ended up fighting and not being there for the other. So Riya proposes an epic adventure to fix their friendship. Two weeks, six countries, unimaginable fun. But two small catches:

They haven't talked in weeks.
They've both been keeping secrets.

Can Riya and Abby find their way back to each other among lush countrysides and dazzling cities, or does growing up mean growing apart?

(336 pages)

Oh, gosh. This book is like heroin for travel addicts.

I mean it. I got such a high from reading the descriptions of all the different places Riya and Abby visited. I've actually been to three of the cities they visit (well, two if you only count ones I was old enough to remember), and the details were so perfect that they took me back to my own travels. It's clear that Culbertson is a fellow travel lover, and that she spent a good amount of time in the countries her characters visit. I love it. And also, now I want to visit all of the other countries she described.

The gorgeous town of
St. Andrews, Scotland
Because seriously, I am addicted to traveling. So much so that there's an 85% chance (barring a sudden onset of nerves) that I will be moving to Scotland next year to do my undergrad at the University of St. Andrews. It's 600 years old and stunningly gorgeous. Check out a picture of it on the left and wish me luck.

Anyway, moving on from the traveling, let's talk characters. Basically, I related to both of them. I can understand Abby's love for the comfortable and familiar of her hometown, and her obsession with history. I can also relate to Riya's travel bug and her itch for adventure. I understand the struggle to balance so many factors in deciding what to do after high school. That said, I do think Riya was kind of a jerk at times.

Sorry, can't elaborate on that for spoiler reasons. Suffice it to say that I don't really like how she did things. Anyway, I also adore Riya's cousin Neel. He seems like a straight-up trope at first, but over the course of the book he really develops into a believable character. I love his push-pull relationship with Riya, where they basically annoy each other constantly but love each other underneath it all. His burgeoning friendship with Abby is even cuter, though it becomes a bit heavy by the end–but again, I can't say much for fear of spoilers. He makes the perfect third party in their traveling trio, though, and I'm glad he was there.

Basically, I loved The Wonder of Us because it's a story about people just like me, facing problems like growing up and moving away and making big college decisions, who get to hash out their friendship problems while traveling around Europe. While I might not like every single choice they make on the way (they seem much more relaxed about kissing new acquaintances than I would be!), I heartily enjoyed reading it. I'll be keeping ahold of my copy for a while, because I know I'll want to revisit the characters as well as the stunning settings. If you like to travel and read about the struggles of growing up, then you might enjoy The Wonder of Us, too. If you do decide to read it, let us know what you think in the comments section down below!

Disclaimer: I received an unsolicited copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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