(Image from Barnes & Noble)
At 23, Kika Shores isn't quite ready to dress in big girl clothes and commute to the city for an adult job with all the other suits. She'd rather be backpacking across Europe or scouring an African bazaar for unique jewelry to sell on her blog. Too bad traveling requires so much dough. Working for a corporate travel agency in New York City helps pad her checking account, but that doesn't mean Kika has to enjoy acting like a grown-up.
When she screws up one too many times on the job, Kika finds herself unemployed, with so little coinage she can barely afford a trip to the dollar store, let alone overseas. Then, fate steps in. A wealthy friend asks Kika to come to London and nanny for her daughters. Overjoyed, she accepts. Not only will Kika be able to hang out with her favorite girls, but she'll also be much closer to Belfast where her "roadmance" boyfriend, Lochlin O'Mahone, lives. She especially can't wait to reconnect with the gorgeous Irishman, the memories of whom still keep her warm at night.
London soothes Kika's wanderlusting soul, but that doesn't mean it's a problem-free zone. Not at all. Kika's charges are having trouble fitting in; she's lying to their parents; and for some weird reason, she's thinking more of stuck-up Aston Hyde-Bettencourt than of Lochlin. When a series of shocking revelations rocks Kika's world, she has to decide what she really wants and how much she's willing to risk in order to get it. For a Peter Pan girl, Kika's suddenly having to make some very adult decisions. And she doesn't like it. Can she grow up enough to go after what she wants? Or will she grab her passport and head for the hills like she always does when things get dicey?
I wasn't expecting to like Girls Who Travel, a debut novel by travel writer Nicole Trilivas, quite as much as I did. Why not? I'm not a huge fluff reader. And the novel is undeniably fluffy. At least sometimes. Not always, though, which is the part that surprised me. Yes, Girls Who Travel is a zany, funny romp with a sometimes annoyingly immature heroine, but it also makes some deeper points about growing up and getting real. A messier ending would have been more true to life, but still ... Overall, this is a satisfying novel voiced by a woman who matures over the course of the tale while never losing her unique, free-spirited perspective. Like I said, I enjoyed Girls Who Travel much more than I thought I would. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to seeing what Trilivas comes up with for her sophomore voyage.
(Readalikes: Hm, nothing is coming to mind. Suggestions?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), sex, violence, and depictions of alcohol abuse