Reviewed by Sai Vidhya
Author: Jen Malone
No. of pages: 352
Available at all major bookstores & The Book Depository
“Pushing your comfort zone is what travelling is all about,” sums up best the predominant theme of Wanderlost, a coming-of-age novel featuring 17-year-old Aubree Sadler, who is convinced to set foot across borders to experience life in a different light.
Unlike her older sister Elizabeth, Aubree does not like spending the summer holidays taking on various internships all over the country; she would rather stay in quiet, old Ohio and lounge by the pool all day.
However, a serious turn of events results in Aubree taking over her sister’s summer job – guiding a group of senior citizens through majestic Europe – despite being less than qualified to do so. Introduce Sam, the tour company owner’s charming son, to the mix and you have the perfect disaster.
Wanderlost is a classic story about lying and its consequences. What starts out as little white lies quickly snowball into bigger complications, and Aubree eventually buries herself in an avalanche of untruths. Written in an engaging tone, Jen Malone takes readers on a trip through Aubree’s mind, allowing them to understand the reasons behind her decisions and making her a multi-faceted character.
One of the notable aspects of Wanderlost would be Aubree’s character development. Starting out naïve and uncertain, she matures into an independent, confident and responsible young lady through the chapters.
As for the romance, it is delayed till the latter half of the book despite being tagged as a contemporary romance novel. The switch in focus – from sisterhood to the budding romance between Sam and Aubree and ending with her maturity as a character – is jarring and lacks unity.
The saving grace of Wanderlost is the meaningful relationships Aubree forges with the senior citizens. They play a significant part in developing her character even though their roles are minor. With their unwavering support and encouragement, she pushes herself to be bold and courageous. This is indeed a unique take on relationships between the young and old, showing that they can connect despite the wide age gap.
Although predictable with a handful of unrealistic plot twists, Wanderlost makes for an entertaining read – especially if you love Europe.