Eighteen-year-old high school senior Laila Piedra is determined to write the best sci-fi story ever.
Her kind, gentle, albeit anemic, white creative writing teacher, Mr. Madison, offers her constant positive feedback after class. Her friends African-American Leo Major, Korean-American Hannah Park, and Puerto Rican Felix Martinez meet regularly to watch The Rest, a long-running sci-fi show. At home, her Ecuadorian dad, French-Canadian mom, and annoying 13-year-old sister, Camille, rarely get in the way. Laila sees her senior year going smoothly until a tragic accident places Mr. Madison in the hospital and the enigmatic Pulitzer Prize–winning Ukrainian author Nadiya Nazarenko becomes the substitute. Suddenly, Laila’s writing is not good enough to earn a passing grade. When Nazarenko suggests that Laila live a little, she realizes how much time she spends inhabiting worlds other than her own. As Laila awkwardly attempts to gain new experiences, she learns that the world is not a draft that can be revised again and again. She stumbles, makes mistakes, and crashes a few times along the way to finding out who she is and who will accept her. This is a gorgeous novel with diverse characters of different ethnicities and sexualities that are true to life in their messiness and earnest missteps. Redgate (Noteworthy, 2016, etc.) treats each character with care, gently guiding them through uncomfortable situations and tender, heartfelt moments.
Final Draft hits every mark: A must-read. (Fiction. 14-18)