Thursday, May 18, 2017

Review: The Wonder of Us

The Wonder of Us
By Kim Culbertson
Published: April 25, 2017

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?

My review:

Abby has had a difficult year in the wake of her parents' divorce. Her dad fell apart and the burden of taking care of him and the house fell to her. It's also been tough because her best friend Riya moved to Germany and they got into a major fight. Now she is in Europe on a trip with Riya (paid for by Riya's wealthy grandmother) where they hopefully will mend their broken relationship. When Abby first sees Riya again she realizes how much Riya has changed. She dresses like a sophisticated European and Riya is also keeping a big secret from Abby that could destroy their friendship for good.

Riya comes across as flighty and irresponsible and a little spoiled at times. She does care a lot about Abby and wants to be a good friend but she definitely has some growing up to do. I think Abby is more mature in a way because of what she's been through with her family. Riya seems like a younger, boy crazy idealistic dreamer in comparison. Of course Abby also likes their small town and doesn't want things to change while Riya is growing away from that and wants to see and experience the world. For Abby, their small hometown represents stability and for Riya she feels it is holding her back. She doesn't want to have the same exact life that everyone else is living. I think this is something teens can easily relate to as they prepare to graduate and possibly leave home for college or career. It is a time when friendships change and people sometimes do grow apart because they want different things.

Abby and Riya are not alone on their trip as they are chaperoned by Riya's older cousin Neel who is in college. Neel is British and can be a stick in the mud in Riya's view but he and Abby get along really well (cue the romantic sparks). Abby is really into history and the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, something she and Neel have in common. As someone who has loved history since I was a kid, I liked how Abby kind of geeked out on it. I love reading books about travel (especially set in Europe) so that appealed to me about this book and I enjoyed reading about the different places they visited.

While there is some romance the book really does focus on the friendship of Abby and Riya which I appreciated. The resolution of that part of the story felt realistic. I also liked how supportive Riya's parents and grandmother and Abby's dad are. It is nice to see positive portrayals of adults in teen fiction. I mostly enjoyed this novel, especially the travel aspect and the growth of the protagonists. It would be a great book to pack in your beach bag this summer.



Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

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