WHERE THE WAVES GO (YA Contemporary)


Where the Waves Go


Alana Saltz


YA Contemporary

Word Count:

64,000 words


After her mother kicks her out of the house, 17-year-old Charlie Elliott leaves her hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the city of her dreams: Los Angeles. She’s running far away from her self-absorbed parents, the boy who broke her heart, and an addiction to alcohol that’s taken over her life.

Charlie is ready for a fresh start—the only problem is she has no money and no plan. She crashes with her aunt in Santa Monica, but a drunken misunderstanding forces her to leave. Unwilling to give up, Charlie sleeps in a lifeguard tower on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, sharing the space with a stray cat and a schizophrenic homeless man. Life on the streets is harder than anything she’s faced before, and she turns to drinking once again to numb her pain.

Fortunately, Charlie meets Les, an awkward, 16-year-old gamer. Charlie stays with Les when she gets sick, and the two quickly develop feelings for each other. But without a job or place to live, Charlie must decide whether to go back to Ann Arbor and face her addiction or stay in L.A. where she has nothing…except for Les. WHERE THE WAVES GO follows Charlie on her journey to figure out how to live life instead of running away from it. MOSQUITOLAND meets PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ in this 64,000-word contemporary YA novel.

I received my MFA in Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. I’m a contributing writer for The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, HelloGiggles, and RoleReboot, specializing in essays about mental health, body image, and identity. I am of Israeli descent on my father’s side, and I was raised religiously and culturally Jewish.

First 300 words:

The familiar sting slides down my throat as I take a sip of whiskey. It’s sharp and hollow at the same time. I don’t wince when I feel it, not anymore. Instead, I find it soothing, knowing the relief that the sting will ultimately bring me.

The music is loud, some rap song I’ve never heard before. Stacey Harrington stands right in front of me but might as well be a thousand miles away. She’s saying something about the new exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, trying to sound intelligent and cultured. Normally, I would force a smile and tell her about the time I went to the Louvre in Paris. I’d talk about how tiny the Mona Lisa is in real life and pretend to be sophisticated and discerning, despite the fact that Paris is the only foreign city I’ve ever been to and it was back when I was ten.

But I don’t feel like playing that game. I haven’t felt like it in a while.

Stacey’s blonde hair is up in the highest ponytail imaginable, and over the top of her head, I see someone step through the front door. Suddenly, I don’t hear the music anymore. I don’t see Stacey, or smell the scent of booze and mildew, or feel the plastic cup gripped in my hand. Everything around me halts to a stop.

It’s Trevor.

There’s a sharp, prickling pain just under my skin, not only in my stomach but all over my body. Trevor’s dark brown eyes scan the room like he’s looking for someone, the way he used to look for me. But when his eyes find mine, I know I’m not the person he’s searching for. Instead of his beautifully bright smile, he frowns.


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