Fiction|YA Contemporary/Mental Illness—92,000 words; approx. 340 pages
Now that he’s graduated high school, Alex Winzelberg can finally move to New York to start his acting career. Problem is, his parents need his help in their shipping warehouse, and between his dad’s mental illness and his mom’s endless to-do lists, he’s convinced he’ll never travel farther than the movie theater on the weedy outskirts of his Idaho hometown.
It isn’t until Alex receives an email from an old pen pal that he sees a spark of the future he’s always dreamed about. What ensues is a series of correspondence between him and an eccentric girl named Ina, who tries to convince him that he can leave his needy family and meet her across the country in New York. But with his dad’s mental illness getting worse, and his mother’s worries rising higher than ever, Alex decides to stay for a year in order to help out. He believes everything is fine until Ina’s messages turn more and more cryptic—to the point that Ina has already set up a time and place for them to meet in the middle of Queens. She says she’s in danger, and Alex knows nothing can stop him from helping her. Only, once the two finally come face to face, Alex realizes he’s going to have to give up something almost impossible in order to help Ina and take care of his family.