I heard about this book as a great John Green read alike. There is a road trip, unforgettable characters and witty banter. Lelia is traveling across the country to visit the Northern Lights. We are not sure why she is doing this. She comes across four people and changes their lives. Five sections are told in different points of view. Hudson is preparing for the most important meeting of his life, a chance for a full ride scholarship at Olde Miss. He is a brilliant student and hopes to be a doctor. He is also a gifted mechanic, which is where he meets Lelia. She needs her car fixed. Their time together will impact everything he thought he wanted. She then meets Bree, a wild hitchhiker with a very troubled life. The two of them have an experience that will either save Bree or make her situation worse. Elliot is having a Lloyd Dobbler moment, he has confessed his love to his best friend at prom, right before they graduate. It doesn’t go well and as he stumbled into the street full of despair, Lelia nearly runs him over. The two go on a journey that will help Elliot get the girl or make an even bigger fool of himself. I think this one is my favorite, because of the Say Anything references. It is one of my favorite movies. Sonia is at the wedding of the sister of her dead boyfriend. At the same time she is trying to hide the fact that she has fallen in love with a family member of the boyfriend’s sister’s husband. Sound confusing? Think how Sonia feels. She losses it and runs off the night before the wedding, running into Lelia who gives her a ride. Unfortunately there are complications involving wedding rings, passports and a stoner who has a cryptic message about donuts. At last we hear Lelia’s story which is not what I expected. Alsaid created a beautifully told story that has moments of great sadness, love and humor. Fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell will love it. One of the things I loved most about this novel, is that Alsaid is brilliant at writing emotions. I felt along with the characters and got lost in the story. I can’t wait to see what else Adi Alsaid writes. This book is a triumph!
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Discuss the Vonnegut line, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy.”
Discuss hidden treasures in your community.
Discuss Lelia’s thoughts about Hudson not wanting to go to school. What do you think Hudson will do now?
Discuss the relationship between Bree and her sister. How did Lelia help or hurt her?
Discuss how Elliot is or isn’t like Lloyd Dobler.
Would you have gone on stage and sang to your crush?
Discuss what happened when Elliot found Maribel. The note?
Discuss when Lelia tells Elliot this isn’t the last time he will fall in love and his heart will be broken.
Talk about Lelia’s tea metaphor about Sonia.
Discuss when Lelia tells Sonia that love is not a once in a lifetime thing.
Discuss the line from the Neutral Milk Hotel song, “Chasing the only meaningful memory you thought you have left.”
Discuss the ending and Lelia’s secret.