MtSnow reviews Pura Vida by Sara Alva, narrated by Joseph Northton. Published August 15, 2015 – 2 hours 23 min. Original print version was published July 25th, 2013
Why MtSnow reviewed this book – I listened to this book for RGR’s Audiobook Review Week because it has been sitting in my library for awhile, and I had only read one other book by this author. It was also a coming-of-age story titled ‘Social Skills’ and I was very impressed with it. The photo and blurb on this one made me think I had to be in a good mindset to listen to it, as I was afraid of an unhappy ending. So I was finally in the mood to take a chance. I was afraid there wouldn’t be a happy ending in this situation where someone is so young and will have to go home when the family vacation is over. Well, the author did a sweet job of surprising me, and at the least, she gave me an HFN.
Note: a copy of this audiobook was purchased by the reviewer, and is not an ARC copy.
BLURB: Simon has found himself in an open relationship for the summer—though not by choice. Instead of wallowing, he’s decided to make the most of a family vacation to Costa Rica by hooking up with the first hot guy available. Trouble is, he has no clue how to go about doing that.
Luckily, he runs into someone with a little more experience. But when the moments of lust turn into something more, Simon isn’t so sure he’ll be able to return to his old relationship. And there’s no way to hold onto this new one, either, as thousands of miles will separate them in only a few short weeks. Either way, he’ll have to learn to let go.
This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.
Pura vida is a Spanish term literally meaning “pure life”. It’s also a positive expression commonly used in Costa Rica meaning that life is good and that people and things are cool, rad, awesome. Ticos (Costa Ricans) also use “pura vida” in greeting someone and in saying goodbye; in doing so they are wishing the other person a good day or a good life.
A good life is all Simon really wants, and he’s using this family vacation to decide if what he has with his ‘boyfriend’ at home is what he wants out of a relationship. The ‘open’ relationship isn’t his idea, but something that was just tossed at him as his college ‘boyfriend’ decided he wanted to sow his oats that summer.
In the process of getting to know himself, Simon slowly seems to realize that, for him at least, love is something more than to just pass the time and have someone to consistently go to bed with. And as loudly and often as he professes to himself that things are just casual, or only just a summer fling, he starts to realize that maybe he has more investment in this relationship with Juan than he set out for.
We aren’t really given much insight into Juan’s thoughts and feelings throughout this short story, but, as the reader, we are given subtle hints and insight as we watch this new relationship take hold, and then all of a sudden, it means more. The tender moments are sweet, and the places and experiences that Juan chooses to share with Simon give this budding relationship hope, even though with the timing and location it doesn’t seem possible.
The tropical location, sandy beaches, turtle reserve and various flora and fauna are represented nicely, giving the reader an escape and assisting in imagining what it might be like to visit this place where all wish to live a life of ‘Pura Vida’.
As for the narrator, at first I wasn’t sure he was right for the part, as he sounded almost like he was just reading the story. But that changed quickly as other characters were introduced. He portrayed each of Simon’s family members very well. He did a nice slow, almost sultry but young-sounding Hispanic accent for Juan, and since the main character the narrator is portraying IS a young college-aged boy, it made sense and I felt him BECOME this guy who was questioning himself and his feelings. He became PERFECT for the part. He even, with the separation and sad parts, got me to feel for Simon, and almost tear up a bit. Great work.
I give this audiobook a 9 out of 10 rating. This is equivalent to 4.5 of 5 stars, or 90% out of 100% recommended.
Where to buy:
Sara Alva is a former small-town girl currently living in big-city LA with a husband, two cats, and an avocado tree. She recently discovered— after a year in her house— that she also has a fig tree in her backyard, which might mean she needs to get out more. But sometimes the stories waiting to be told demand more attention, and when she puts fingers to keyboard, it’s usually to write about journeys of self-discovery, heartache, personal growth, friendship and love. When she isn’t writing, she’s teaching or dancing.
Website – http://saraalva.com