Freshly minted grad Emilia Noble arrives in Costa Rica to teach English in the tropical community of Pacifica. Its carefree, pura vida lifestyle is a welcome contrast to her dark and wintry origins. Tossing caution aside like an old winter coat, she plunges headfirst into an exotic cocktail of sensory pleasure.
Diego is a local whose surfer body and cool detachment make Lia buzz with a long-lost thrill. Fascinated by her new environment, she can’t help but wonder about the moody inner workings of the boy with triceps like Wolverine and a grimace to match.
Diego seems to have no problem ignoring Lia, though. Caught up in his family’s conflicted attitude toward foreigners, he notices her only when it’s convenient. But as Lia thrives in her new surroundings, Diego might just find reason enough to defy his embattled, insular father. When north and south are mixed together, the results are intoxicating.
I decided to adopt a personal theme this year by incorporating books set in different countries into my reading schedule. May be it’s the nasty Midwest winter-blues that have me longing for escape but seeing that this story is set in Costa Rica, a country I know nothing of, I thought I couldn’t have asked for a better distraction. I mean, if I can't travel abroad I may as well read about them, right?
O’Connor has done us all a huge favour by describing Lia’s new surroundings in rich detail. Upon her arrival, Lia’s immediatelt exposed to the vibrant colour and sounds of South America that are in contrast to her native Canada. She’s a little out of her comfort zone at first but soon enough adjusts to the rhythm of her new home. She adopts the local attitude of “pure vida” meaning pure life. It’s not only the standard local greeting but also a way of life there. Time doesn’t hold the same constraints as it does in the western world. In this tropical paradise far removed from home, she’s able to breathe and learns to let go of her past mistakes and the pain of a failed relationship.
Diego is an intriguing character who's not exceptionally friendly towards Lia upon their first introduction. Go figure that she ends up having to work with him indirectly because he’s the brother of her boss who hired her to teach English. Despite his cold attitude towards her, his hot bod and confidence do a number on her. He’s a distraction who sets off all sorts of ridiculous inner monologue inside her head. I for one was highly amused by all her awkward thoughts and moments in front of him. I liked that even though she’s trying to attain a level of independence from relationships, she’s still aware of Diego and his affect on her.
Eventually even the stoic Diego can’t keep resisting his attraction to Lia. When he starts to open up to her she begins to understand the complicated man before her. But if Lia has learned anything from her own experiences, it’s that at some point you need to take a stand for yourself and declare what makes you happy. It's scary to allow yourself to be that vulnerable but Lia's learned this the hard way.
Lessons In Pure Life isn’t just a romance. It’s about exploration and how Lia reinvented herself after her own personal misfortune to discover her own beauty. She evolves easily from being the tourist upon her arrival to living as the locals, savoring every moment. Everything she has gone through has brought her to this moment. Lessons In Pure Life is also a love note to Costa Rica's gorgeous scenery and rich history. It worked on me as I've now added Costa Rica to my destination bucket list because I too, would love to experience that "pura vida"!