Annie desperately wants to get into Brown University’s medical program but her scores are just not high enough. Hoping to bolster her chances she signs up with a medical aid group in Nicaragua run by friend’s she knew in high school. Felipe has worked hard to become a doctor but he finds it is often hard to earn the respect of the American “poverty tourists” who donate time and money to his mother’s medical aid group. Felipe is surprised to realize how much his teenage crush, Annie, has grown up, but he’s not sure how she’ll handle working in the rain forest. As both Annie and Felipe reconnect and work together they must learn what it is they really want in life.
This was a great story and I loved how unique of a setting it offered. The author painted a great picture of Nicaragua and it’s people without softening the poverty some areas live in. The reader really feels for the people and how much the Ahora medical clinics mean to them. I liked both Annie and Felipe but the story overall felt very young adult.
The romance between Felipe and Annie is a slow build that fits with the circumstances and the ages of the characters. Annie has just broken up with her boyfriend, she hasn’t seen Felipe since high school; while Felipe is very focused on his work and based on his past work with Americans he’s unsure how Annie with handle everything going on. There’s a nice tension and pace to the relationship that I appreciated considering the situation they were in. It was really nice to watch both characters grow and mature. While the characters are indeed young (heroine about 21 and hero about 25) the overall tone and writing of the book felt very young adult. I didn’t have a problem with the writing it just made it hard to conceive of the actions of the characters. Some of this may be some of my own pre-conceived expectations, for instance, I hear doctor and I think of someone more in their 30’s than Felipe’s actual age. He does address the fact that it takes less years of schooling in Nicaragua to become a doctor but even then, the work Felipe does is so important.
Felipe is beyond dedicated to his work and all he wants is to convince his mother that he can run things; but Felipe has a lot to learn about working with others and accepting the help his clinic needs. I respect how hard Annie works while there and how compassionate she is toward the people she meets. She truly embraces her time in Nicaragua and her enthusiasm for learning comes through clearly.
For Annie London, a month in a Central American rainforest means handing out mosquito nets, giving medical aid, and teaching children about the birds and the bees. With any luck, it will also land her application in the “accepted” pile at a top tier medical school. But as soon as she steps off the plane, Annie realizes her bug spray, feeble Spanish, and medical supplies won’t help her deal with her new feelings for Felipe—her best friend’s older brother, who’s much hotter than she remembers, and who also happens to be the doctor in charge of the trip.
Gawking “volun-tourists” may keep his family’s medical clinic afloat, but Dr. Felipe Gutierrez doesn’t have to like them. Or the way they make snap judgments about his practice and the people he cares for. But when his old crush, Annie, shows up to volunteer, her killer curves and kind smile fan the embers of a flame Felipe didn’t realize he’d been carrying. A flame that makes him question all his preconceived notions.
As ideas and cultures clash, Annie and Felipe must decide how far outside their comfort zones they are willing to go—both for their work and for one another.
Published by Diversion Publishing on April 19, 2016