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.
Always be original
Sometimes rules are meant to be broken
Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school.
Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he's broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It's either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.
Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they've actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.
My Best Advice for Teen Writers
Full disclosure, I wrote about 600 words of an ill-fated hair-braiding metaphor as an answer to this question before I remembered an email I sent to a teen reader who’d asked me this very question. Past me was a lot more succinct, so I’m going to go with his answer. I hope it helps.
A) Read widely. You may have genres you love, but don't get caught up in one type of book. Read it all. If you hate the classics, read a few more and figure out why. Read YA, read literary fiction, read short stories, read paperback thrillers. The more you do this, the more you learn what makes a story good. You get a better sense for pacing, for dialogue, characterization. More importantly, you get a sense of what kind of writer you want to be, the kinds of stories you want to tell.
B) Write often. You probably don't need to do it every day, but when you get an idea, make time for it. Do it at a steady pace and it will be done in a period of time that will feel surprisingly short. Granted, I didn't finish anything I wrote for a long time, but once I knew I was becoming a writer, I wrote 1,100 words a day, almost without fail, until at the end of 3 months I had a 90,000 word first draft.
C) Patience. At 16, you feel so on the verge of who you really are, and I know from experience that you just want that person to arrive already. But it doesn't always happen that way. At 16, I'd experienced such a fraction of what I'd experienced at 22, and so many of those experiences are what helped inspire my writing. They're what gave me my voice. Am I saying wait until you're 22 to write? Absolutely not. Do it now. As soon as you're done reading this [post]. But if the writing isn't as good as you want it to be, or you feel like you don't know what you're doing, remember it does take time. Keep writing. As my high school teacher once very poetically put it: don't be afraid to take a shit on the page. Shit is the fertilizer from which your roses will bloom. And you will write a lot of bad stuff throughout your life. I still do. It's okay. Repeat the above steps.
About Adi Alsaid: