A Nicaraguan nurse visits the United States to compete for a grant and ends up meeting an aspiring television writer from Illinois who's interning on a tanking late-night show.
In this follow-up to her debut novel, Heger (Without Borders, 2016) launches into a screwball comedy that sustains its madcap energy for much of the exposition. Marisol Gutierrez is in LA to win funds for a grass-roots medical organization—and try out for her favorite game show—when she bumps into Evan Abramson, an intern at the disastrous So Late It’s Early Show. She agrees to be in its sparse audience but finds herself in a skit with him instead; their chemistry results in a ratings spike, and they're tagged as a couple on social media (#Marivan). Despite some misgivings, Marisol trades additional appearances on the show for the promise of its crew’s help in professionalizing her grant presentation. As she and Evan film a series of dopey interactions where she plays his dating guru, they start to fall in love. There are some funny episodes involving Marisol coaching Evan through bad pickup lines and staged dates against campy backdrops; others flesh out their individual histories and family dynamics. But the attempt to show the clueless bigotry of non-Latinos can edge into caricature, and the grant competitors who try to sabotage Marisol’s application come across as unfortunate stereotypes of bitchy women. While the comic pace slackens in the last third of the book, the question of how the romance and the grant will turn out keep the reader’s interest.
A lightweight novel with a Latina heroine, a supporting cast of game-show contestants in Halloween costumes, and props that include fake dog poop—think Katie MacAlister meets Jimmy Fallon.