Sunday, July 13, 2014

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release: July 29, 2014
Source: PLA
Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost.

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.
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.

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.

11 comments:

  1. I'm so happy you enjoyed this one; it's probably one I'm most looking forward to this summer, and I'm always scared when I read a new review - I don't want to hear the bad news! Elliot sounds like he needs a slap upside the head, but the rest of the characters will probably make me cry (I'm a crier for books!). Great review!

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  2. Your review is fantastic! I heard about this book a while ago when the author posted a Youtube video of him sitting down to watch a Pretty Little Liars episode with his sister. This is definitely going on my to read list =)

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  3. That's great the characters seem so real, despite not getting a lot of page time with all of them. Elliott's storyline does seem a bit creepy- glad the rest are better.

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  4. I've been meaning to pick this one up myself but so many negative/dnf reviews because of Elliot keep interrupting. I don't even know him but I definitely don't like that guy. Maybe this is premature to say but I wish his character had been used to actually showcase the culture of male entitlement and deal with it in a respectable manner. Anyways, I'm glad you liked it and what you say about Leila had got me back on track. :)

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  5. There's definitely been some conflicting reviews around this one from fellow bloggers, but I'm glad you enjoyed it overall! :D The characters - supporting and Lila herself - sound absolutely amazing and well-developed, so I'm excited to experience them for myself! It's a shame that Elliot was a bit of a disappointment though.

    Thanks for sharing Emily, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

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  6. Lovely, lovely review, Emily. I haven't really read a lot of YA road trip novels but it looks like I'll be starting with this one. I love that you still enjoyed the book even though you had some pretty big issue (at least from my perspective) with Elliot. Leila looks like my kind of protagonist and I think I'm due for a heartwarming, tearjerking novel already.

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  7. Yeah, I think Elliot and I are going to have issues. I hate it when guys can't take no for an answer and relentlessly pursue a girl even when she's made it clear she's NOT interested. And in literature, we're supposed to swoon over this? Uhm, why? If guys did that in real life, it would be stalkerish and manipulative and just NO.

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  8. Hmm, guys like Elliot are really common in YA but they make me so frustrated every single time. Everything else does sound pretty good though-especially rest of the characters. Plus the mix of fun and serious moments would be nice too.

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  9. Emily,

    You write such fantastic reviews! I really liked when you wrote, "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." You have a great way with words Emily.

    I don't think I would like Elliot either and find sometimes I don't like characters that I am reading. Still, I will put this book on my TBR list.

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  10. *builds courage* I think I'll go finish. I've had a rough start with this one because I wasn't a fan of the first couple of chapters, especially his POV. I think it'll get better once I go to Bree's, the next POV. It's just that I'm having a hard time connecting and am waiting for the fun. But I see that it clearly came for you so I'll keep going! Ugh, at least I'm prepared for the Elliot's entitlement. That's just wrong. It's kind of like Taylor Swift's You Belong with Me in another way. Or at least how I perceive it. Thanks for motivating me!

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