Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wanderlust Wednesday Review: Without Borders by Amanda Heger

Without Borders by Amanda Heger
Series: Wanderlove #1
Published: April 19th, 2016
Publisher: Diversion Publishing
242 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary New Adult
Acquired this book: Via NetGalley in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

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.

When Ms Heger contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing Without Borders and possibly featuring it on Wanderlust Wednesday, I was intrigued. If you visit my blog often, you’ll know I have a wicked, never-ending case of wanderlust and a desire to travel...but that desire is contained mostly to Canada, Europe, and the US. I’ve never had much interest in visiting Central America, but it’s still fun to travel vicariously, and I'm so glad I accepted Without Borders for review because I loved it.

Annie is a great main character. She’s smart and driven, relatable, and caring. She needs something that will make her med school résumé stand out, so she travels to Nicaragua to join some old friends - native Nicaraguans - on a month-long medical brigade. The month is full of ups and downs, scary situations, and a lot of lessons and growth. Brooding, sexy Felipe makes a great love interest. He’s dedicated and passionate and genuinely wants to help people. The attraction and sexual tension between these two was palpable from the moment they met (which was hilarious, by the way). I loved that they were both pushed outside their comfort zones. Annie was in a new place that’s different from what she’s used to, dealing with situations that are completely out of the norm. It wasn’t easy and she had moments where she wanted to quit - where the things she experienced were almost too much to handle - but she picked herself up every time she fell and she kept going. For Felipe, he had to get over his preconceived notions, judgements, and assumptions, and open his mind to see that not all the ‘volun-tourists’ are going to end up dead weight or making upsetting judgements about the people, places, or conditions. I loved that these two were both flawed - they said and did the wrong things, they jumped to conclusions, they were both stubborn - because it made them and their growth real and believable.

Annie and Felipe weren’t the only great characters; Without Borders was full of wonderful side characters who made the story that much better, from Felipe’s sister Marisol, to Juan the brigade’s dentist, to Phillip one of the ‘volun-tourists’, to the people they met along the way. The characters and the setting were so vivid, I felt like I was right there with them, sleeping in a hammock, trudging through the oppressive heat of the jungle, or being jiggled around in the back of a truck or boat. The story was a real eye opener to the conditions some people live in. Not only poverty, but extreme poverty, little to no electricity or running water, not much food, illness, having to travel a long way to see a doctor. All of these elements made the story so wonderfully unique and different from all the other New Adult I’ve read.

Without Borders is funny, touching, and compelling. These characters and their story will stick with me for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of people say they want more New Adult that breaks the mould - well, this is it. Without Borders is a fantastic debut from Amanda Heger. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.

Have you read Without Borders? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you ever visited Central America?

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