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At twenty-one, Evelyn is na ve about life and love. Raised in a small Montana town, she moves at age sixteen with her devout Catholic family to California. There, she is drawn to Latino culture when she works among the migrant workers. During the summer of her junior year in college, Evelyn travels to a small Mexican town to help set up a school and a library--an experience that whets her appetite for a life full of both purpose and adventure.
After graduation, Evelyn joins the Peace Corps and is sent to perform community development work in a small mountain town in the Andes of Per . There, she and her roommate, Marie, search for meaningful projects and adjust to living with few amenities. Over the course of eighteen months, the two young women work in a hospital, start 4-H clubs, attend campesino meetings, and teach PE in a school with dirt floors. Evelyn is chosen queen of the local boys' high school and--despite her resolve to resist such temptations--falls in love with a university student. As she comes of age, Evelyn learns about life and love the hard way when she must choose between following the religious rules of her youth and giving in to her sexual desires.