When Lily Bushwold finds a job teaching English in Bolivia, she’s excited to leave behind her old life where she was bounced around between foster care and group homes. She steals enough money for the plane ticket, but when she lands in Cochabamba she finds out the gig was a scam. She decides to stay and works at a hostel with other expats girls like her who are using travel to escape. When she meets Omar, a local man who has relocated from a remote jungle village to find city work, she falls madly in love. She’s so crazy about him that when he has to return home to take care of a family matter, she uproots her life once again to follow him to his isolated village.
Lily is forced to adapt to a world so different from her own, a place where spiders are the size of puppies and snakes are 30 feet long! She also must navigate a society where poachers, missionaries, and indigenous tribes are all battling for resources. This is a great read, especially since Lily’s journey is completely opposite of what I would do. Romance with a hot local sounds amazing, but the second it involves living with him in a jungle with wildlife bigger than me, the relationship would be over!
For a sneak peek Into the Jungle check out this excerpt below!
I loved these girls with all the passionate intensity and conviction and delusion of my not-yet-twenty-year-old self. The damage in me honored the damage in them, and as far as I was concerned, that was the sum total of truth in the world. Ignoring the fact that we didn’t have much in common, that Britta had a mean side and Molly lied probably more than me—which was saying something—I told myself we’d be friends forever.
But my gut knew that we were all lost children pretending we were A-OK with our clove cigarettes and our fuck-everything, we’re never-going-home attitudes. None of us had any idea what we were doing; all of us were devastated inside. There were reasons we’d ended up there, trying to sleep in noisy bunk rooms with doors that didn’t lock, a new boss every other week who leered and leched at each of us. But it was as if we were stuck there, like food caught in a drain. If anyone had asked us, What makes you tick? Where are you going? Why are you here? Why can’t you get through the day without crying? What do you want from your life? We would have been stumped for any answers at all.
As I whipped the thin sheets off rows of narrow cots, grimacing at the occasional period stain or worse, I tried to feel happy for Molly, but the truth was, this new fragile family of lost girls was falling apart, bit by bit. Did it matter who would be the first to leave? For all of us, it was just a matter of time. Soon, I would have to face life after the Versailles, a fate I dreaded—exhaustion, filth, and roaches be damned.
Nine years later, I wish I could wrap my arms around my younger, stupider self and tell her to hold on tight, because flying to Bolivia on a scam was the least of a series of bad decisions I was about to make.