Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release: July 29, 2014
Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost.I picked up Let's Get Lost looking for a light summer story pushpinned with humor and the crazy, exhilarating antics that only ever seem to happen in YA road trip novels. With its bright, colorful cover complete with a wanderlust-inspiring road map and messy marker ink, Adi Alsaid's debut promises a respite from mundane life. Let's Get Lost gave me just that—a vacation into a world where you can seize every day and find true love along the way—but it also gave me so much more.
Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.
There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love.
Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.
Aside from its fun, escapist moments, this book tells a story scribbled with bittersweet sadness and highlighted with hope. Each character mentioned in the summary deals with a separate heavy problem, and the poignancy with which Alsaid tells their tales is what truly makes this book special.
Delivered in five vignettes, four spotlighting each of the characters who collide with Leila and one focusing on the protagonist herself, Let's Get Lost only spends a handful of chapters on each member of its cast before leaving him or her behind. However, in the 70 or so pages that each character receives, every one—except Elliot, but I will address him later—becomes so complex that I could not help becoming emotionally invested in his or her journey. Yes, readers will laugh along with the characters as Bree and Leila commit acts of questionable morality, but readers prone to crying may find themselves shedding a few tears as each character deals with his or her problems with impressive resiliency.
Even more brilliant than the secondary characters is the main character, Leila herself. Unlike most stories, which begin detailing their protagonist's personalities from the exposition, Let's Get Lost tells readers little about Leila's life, focusing instead on how she shapes other people's. The last section finally elucidates Leila's backstory, which includes a tale that I did not expect and gives all of her previous actions suddenly-clear meaning. Like with all the other characters, once the plot unveils her problems, watching her overcome them is an intoxicating, even empowering, experience. I adored Leila's unusual characterization and will remember her development for months to come.
However, after all my praise of the characters, I have to note the one I did not like—Elliot. His issue, the reason he needs Leila to make a pit stop in his life, is a botched attempt at a romantic relationship with his close friend, Maribel. After years of hiding his feelings, he finally tells Maribel that he loves her and receives the dreaded "I'd rather be friends" reply. In response, he and Leila devise all sorts of devilish tricks to force Maribel to realize that she really does love Elliot, despite the fact that she clearly turned him down. Elliot's sense of entitlement to a girl who made her disinterest evident makes him seem creepy and pushy, turning what was meant to be a romantic quest into a melodramatic and borderline offensive stalking escapade.
Still, despite this problem that kept me from fully enjoying Elliot's story, I loved Let's Get Lost as a whole. Its realistic characters and their determination to overcome conflicts infuse the book with vibrancy and life. When I finished reading, I felt as if I was leaving behind real people who could, with a little more time, become my friends. The characters in this story stay alive long after the final page, and I can only hope they will send me a few postcards from significant stops on their future journeys.