Let's Get Lost

352p. Harlequin Teen. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211241.
Gr 8 Up—An achingly beautiful story about the profound impacts of opening oneself to a stranger. Seventeen-year-old Leila, on a road trip to Alaska, gives each person she encounters a different reason for traveling to see the Northern Lights. First she meets Hudson, the best mechanic around and a medical school hopeful. With him she finds love but not before she leaves Hudson's dreams in shambles. As she continues her journey, Leila picks up hitchhiker Bree, whose skewed moral compass and heavy baggage land the girls in jail overnight. The protagonist is pivotal in Bree's intervention, pushing her to work things out with her orphaned sister. Next is Elliot, whom Leila almost kills with her distinctive too-red car. These two conspire to use '80s movies as inspiration to convince Elliot's unrequited love of his true feelings. Lastly, the teen consoles Sonia, who has lost and found love at the most inconvenient and confusing time in her life. They embark on a quest to smuggle missing wedding rings across the Canadian border, while Leila coaxes Sonia into letting go of her past and embracing the future. Readers learn little about Leila's motivations until the very end, when her tragic truth is revealed and some questions are still left unanswered. Reminiscent of John Green's Paper Towns (Dutton, 2008) and road trip novels that feature a teen paving the way to adulthood, Alsaid's debut is a gem among contemporary YA novels.—Jamie-Lee Schombs, Loyola School, New York City
In this five-part novel, Leila is driving from Louisiana to Alaska to see the northern lights. Along the way, she befriends four fellow teenagers in need, improving their lives by inspiring them to take risks. It's not until the final section that we learn the truth about who Leila is, and why she's undertaken her journey. The characters' connections are simple and honest.
The central character in this five-part novel is Leila, who is driving from Louisiana to Alaska to see the Northern Lights. Along the way, she befriends four fellow teenagers in need: Hudson, who's so smitten with Leila that he jeopardizes a big opportunity; Bree, who's aimlessly hitchhiking, trying to forget a tragedy in her past; Elliot, who's devastated after the girl of his dreams rejects him; and Sonia, who's feeling guilty about moving on after her boyfriend's death. Leila improves each of their lives by inspiring her new friends to take risks and to "seize the Tuesday" (a variation on carpe diem). But it's not until the final section that we learn the devastating truth about who Leila is, and why she's undertaken such a long journey. Despite the short amount of time they spend together, the characters' connections are simple and honest, preventing the novel's morals from feeling forced. "People hurt each other," Leila gently counsels Bree in one such instance. "The beauty is that we have the ability to heal and forgive." Any potential heaviness, however, is balanced by some over-the-top adventures, such as when Leila and Sonia attempt to sneak over international lines--into Canada--with the help of "Stoner Timmy" and a dozen donuts. With equal parts heartache and hope, this debut is a fresh interpretation of the premise that "home is who you're with." rachel l. smith

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