Title: The Wonder of Us
Author: Kim Culbertson
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Young adult/teen, Contemporary
Book format: Paperback
Sweet Strawberries: Sweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet Strawberry

Description:  Since Riya moved away with her family to Berlin, she and Abby have struggled to be there for one another, and the haven’t spoken in weeks.  But Riya is pretty sure she knows the perfect way to make things better – a grand tour of European cities.  Two weeks, six countries, unimaginable fun.
Can the lush countrysides and dazzling cities of Europe fix their relationship, or does growing up mean growing apart?

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  Best friends Riya and Abby, who have been friends since childhood, have been apart in the last year, when Riya’s family moved to Berlin. Abby’s felt alone in Yuba Ridge, California and her year’s been horrible with her parents splitting up. The two girls haven’t been close lately, with both of them arguing and not talking to each other much. To fix things Riya invites Abby for a trip around Europe, an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime adventure that they can share together and hopefully mend their relationship too. But will the two girls really fix things, and what secrets might they still be hiding from each other?

I liked reading this book, I do like a book which takes the characters on an adventure to different countries and gives you an insight into those places too, so the setting was perfect for me, but the ending was a mixed feeling for me. The book is split into seven sections, each section taking place in a different city around Europe. The chapters alternate between Riya and Abby and it was interesting and good to see this dual perspective, although I did sometimes get confused as to who I was reading, their voices sounded the same.

Riya and Abbey are complete opposites and it was Abby who I found most fun to read. As the story unfolds there is tension between the girls, Abby’s life is a mess with her parents and Riya has her own secret that she’s afraid of telling Abby. I liked the way the story went between them, the way that everything unfolded slowly and how we understood things from both sides and could see how the other reacted. I got used to this dual perspective quickly, although I always preferred reading Abby’s story to Riya’s.

I like the interesting facts in information about the places the girls visit too. The setting, especially places like Iceland, really make me want to visit and I enjoyed reading about all the different things they did. It was, though, the main story between the two girls that keeps the tale going and although it was a good story and I liked what happens, especially towards the end with Neel, I just didn’t enjoy the ending as much as I had hoped.

The author goes for a good realistic ending. It is a good ending and although I won’t give out proper spoilers, I will say that on the whole both girls are happy and the ending is a good one with things resolved. It shows how things change and how, even if best friends move away, it’s not the end of the wold, and you can still be close and also happy with your life. But despite this good message and overall ending with Abby, I did find the note to how her situation is at home, with her and her dad a bit disappointing. I also liked the whole Neel issue but was disappointed with how that concludes – I’m not sure it should have been part of the story if it concludes the way it did. The overall ending was good, even very positive, but at the same time it was just too realistic for me. I prefer books that have a more happy overall ending, even if it’s a bit over the top – I just prefer books to escape into happier endings, where things end more perfectly, rather than more realistic ones.

The book doesn’t have anything offensive and it’s a good book for any teens or maybe even younger , who want to read about relationships between friends and also about Europe and the adventure of that. On the whole it’s a good book and I do think many will enjoy reading it. In fact I really did enjoy reading it myself, it’s just the ending that fell a bit flat for me.

Do you like this book?  Have you read any other books about adventures abroad?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂