Goodreads synopsis: 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. 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.
This was probably one of the most poorly written books I’ve ever read. I give it two stars instead of one because I feel like the idea was pretty good, however poorly executed, and Leila’s secret at the end was interesting. Also, it seemed like the author at least tried to add in some POC. Basically, though, the characters are unbelievably flat. Leila is a classic manic pixie dream girl, no question. She has all these cute, quirky things about her, but she is a plot device, not a person. As for Hudson, well, I was cringing during his whole story. Of course he would find her so incredibly beautiful (I believe he even says something like, not in a “different beautiful” kind of way but in a “hot beautiful” way, ugh). And of course she would love him right back. It was weird because at some point she started talking about how there was a guy that she missed and stuff, and I didn’t realize she was talking about Hudson because she actually didn’t seem that into him when they were together.
Anyway, Bree was fine, but I felt like it wasn’t likely that she would have survived 9 months of hitchhiking at her age, or at least it wasn’t likely that she wouldn’t have ended up in jail by now, since she had apparently been shoplifting for a while. I thought that the author started to mix up Bree’s and Leila’s personalities, because sometimes one of them would say something that sounded more like something the other one would say. I wanted to know more about why Bree kissed her sister’s fiance and whether or not he wanted to hook up with Bree as well. Elliot’s story was really stupid, maybe the worst one. I appreciate that he wanted to accept that Maribel didn’t like him, and I was pissed off at Leila for insisting that they had to “go get the girl”. Maribel said no, and Leila should have respected that, like Elliot sort of tried to. And the fact that Maribel eventually said yes is ridiculous. Like, I kind of knew it was coming, but it was totally illogical and cheap. Sonia’s story was complicated and confusing. She didn’t feel like she was Leila’s age. When her story began, I thought she was probably about 27. And their whole escapade through the forest was laughable. I don’t know much about border patrol, but I imagine that it’s much more difficult to get through without a passport than the author made it out to be.
As for the writing, I wondered if the editors actually paid any attention to this book while they were working on it. The sentences were poor and full of cliches. I can’t stand the phrase “as if…” being used very often, let alone on almost every page. It felt like this was written by a twelve year old, basically, and I can’t imagine what the draft must have looked like before the editors got ahold of it. Overall, this book was completely pathetic.