The Wonder of Us
Author: Kim Culbertson
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Goodreads Synopsis: 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?
I knew I had to pick up The Wonder of Us when I read the synopsis and found it was about two best friend going on an epic adventure, while trying to reconnect. This is a story that resonates with many as high school, college, and different parts of our life ends. What could be better than finding a way back to that friendship by taking a road trip through Europe.
There’s Abby who has been left behind in California, while Riya has been away with her family in Germany for the past year. Both of them have gone through their own turmoils and secrets they’ve carried since leaving each other in bad terms. Then one day Riya offers Abby a chance to be taken away from all of that, for both of them to travel through Europe for two weeks, and things move along from there.
“Yes! That other thing in your hand right now is a ticket to Florence, Italy–for you!!! Surprise! My nani is sending us on an incredible multi-city trip this summer. She’s giving me my eighteenth birthday trip four months early. Two and half weeks of European fun!”
The story goes back and forth between Abby and Riya giving the reader both sides of their journey, well along with Neel (Riya’s cousin) who is their chaperone during their time in Europe, and it’s a nice take on things to be able to see their changes and growth with each other since being apart for close to a year. And, it’s fun getting to view the different places in this novel through the well written words used to describe it all.
“The Boboli Gardens spread out around me, and I can’t help but feel like I’ve just stepped back in time into the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It’s hard not to.”
“After another hour of passing through storybook villages with patchwork fields and sheets of striking blue lakes, we near the urban center of Zurich. It doesn’t look like the cities I’m used to. More like Santa’s village. The buildings seem made of gingerbread. Flags, mostly Swiss, flutter along the ordered streets. Leafy trees shade people sitting at outdoor cafes on the wide sidewalks. Pots of geraniums bloom in containers and smartly dressed men and women chat on their phones.”
This was just as much about the scenery as it is about the friendship between Abby an Riya and it made me love The Wonder of Us even more. Just as they’re getting to see new places and make new memories, they are also getting to know the new them, how they’ve changed from who they used to be, into someone that their friendship may not be able to grow from.
If that wasn’t much of a strain on their relationship already, Neel definitely doesn’t make it any easier. When I thought, here’s a character that is going to make me as annoyed as it’s making Riya, I see the better side of him through Abby. There are other characters throughout this novel also that add a nice touch to everything, even if they are only in a few pages. I just couldn’t get enough of this book and it might also be how honest it all is, and how beautifully the sights were portrayed. This is definitely one of my faves of this year.