In this hilarious and heartfelt debut novel for fans of Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli, an aspiring screenwriter learns sometimes love has its own script.
In this hilarious and heartfelt debut novel, an aspiring screenwriter learns sometimes love has its own script.
Harry wants nothing more than to write Hollywood screenplays. He knows the first step toward achieving that goal is winning a screenwriting competition that will seal his admission into the college of his dreams, so he’s determined to spend his summer free of distractions—also known as boys—and finish his script. After last year, Harry is certain love only exists in the movies anyway.
But then the cause of his first heartbreak, Grant, returns with a secret that could change everything—not to mention, there’s a new boy in town, Logan, who is so charming and sweet, he’s making Harry question everything he knows about romance. As he tries to keep his emotions in check and stick to his perfect plan for the future, Harry’s about to learn that life doesn’t always follow a script.
WHEN HARRY MET LOGAN
Hot guys are the best part of summer. Pastel ice cream scoops, lemonade-like sunshine, and sea salt–strung hair are staples, but there’s something about guys with sandy calves and strong, tanned arms wearing low-hanging swimsuits.
Honestly, I love everything about summer. The warmth, the way my mom stocks the freezer with the variety pack of popsicles—cherry for Milly, grape for Lottie, and orange for me. There’s new music and the feeling of going into a cold movie theater on a hot day. And, yeah, the guys. Everywhere you look, there’s a hot guy. It’s like that Oprah meme—you get a hot guy, you get a hot guy, everybody gets a hot guy!
I can absolutely appreciate all of the six-packs and dimples, but only as long as I keep my eye on the prize and stay focused. My mom always says fortune favors the determined… Or something like that.
And I am determined. I have two weeks and six days to finish and submit my screenplay before the Reel Sunshine competition deadline, which is totally doable.
My whole future depends on it. No pressure.
Damn, there really are attractive men everywhere—lying out at the pool or, past the iron gate and sandy walkway, stretching across the volleyball court down on the beach. It’s like in summer, hot guys get even hotter. It’s the sweat and the bronzed abs.
I don’t do the whole dating thing anymore, so this summer really is the equivalent of scrolling through the Calvin Klein Instagram or something—purely about the visual.
Getting close to a boy leads only to heartbreak, disappointment, and—most importantly—distraction from one’s goals. See, most people spend their high school years searching for their great romance. One like in the movies. But I’ve already had mine, and TSwift’s “Death by a Thousand Cuts” was my top song on Spotify last year, so I’m good.
Maybe once I’ve secured my spot at USC. Actually, maybe once I’ve gotten an internship at a studio. By then I won’t even remember Grant Kennedy or what heartbreak feels like and I’ll be able to spend a little bit more time focused on romance.
Well, realistically, I should probably wait until I sell my first script and—
My youngest sister, Lottie, laughs maniacally, and I am snapped to the real world. I watch in horror as she grabs a fistful of Milly’s hair and yanks her down into the shallow end of the pool.
“Lottie,” I say. “Come on, that was totally unnecessary!”
Lottie, though she be but five, is fierce. And now she has hair that barely falls under her chin because she decided to give herself an impromptu trim with her crafting scissors just before her last day of school. Nana had to give her an emergency haircut. She narrows her eyes at me and then shrugs.
My mother is careening down the path from the club’s new restaurant, a tote bag slung over her shoulder with a large silver tumbler in one hand and her phone in the other. I haven’t been yet, but the photos I’ve seen are really cool.
Mom met some local beauty influencers there at the launch event and they’ve been promoting her products. Really, her company doesn’t need much more press since Jen Aniston likes her stuff, but she says it can’t hurt to keep reaching the younger crowd.
“Harold,” Mom says, out of breath.
She always calls me Harold. Even though Lottie and Milly get nicknames and everyone I know calls me Harry, apparently I’ll always be Harold to her. Because of this, Milly and Lottie call me Harold, too.
“I thought you guys went to the kid’s pool. I was worried for a second you’d disappeared.”
Moms are always worried. I’m convinced it’s a personality trait that’s earned as soon as they change their first diaper.
Sitting in the chaise next to my table, Mom is wearing a white cover-up and big black sunglasses. Under a giant straw hat, her hair is probably tied up into a knot—it’s dyed much lighter than Milly’s dark brown waves and certainly differs from the more chestnut hair Lottie and I have. Mom lowers her glasses to eye the girls, and then her phone sounds an alert.
“They’re at war,” I say, gesturing my Spider-Man pen toward my flailing siblings. This pen—a gift Lottie selected for me from her class treasure chest—reminds me of another reason to love summer: the new superhero movies. It isn’t all about hot guys. Even if most of the heroes are hot. That’s a happy coincidence.
“They’ll work it out,” Mom says, engrossed in whatever email she just got. She quickly responds as two more alerts come through. She doesn’t even kick off her flip-flops. She just sits up straight and reads, reads, reads and types, types, types.
For my sisters and me, the Citrus Harbor Beach Club is all palm trees and virgin daiquiris and nighttime Disney movies projected on the screen at the kid’s pool. For Mom, it’s a blurred background behind her phone—second to the masses of work emails and texts she gets when she tries to relax by the pool with us before she inevitably goes home because she needs her computer.
The club is fun, but there’s not much variety or excitement apart from the screaming kids like Lottie, or the guys who could resemble a shirtless Tom Holland if you squint really hard. It’s the epitome of our small town’s slow pace and fixed reality. When I’m home from college for nostalgia-filled summers, it’ll probably be a nice, calm escape from the hustle and bustle of my new Hollywood life.
“I said I want to play ‘DANCING QUEEN,’” Lottie shrieks.
“You little gremlin, you scratched me! Do you ever cut your nails?”
Ignoring Milly and Lottie, I look around for Hailey. Behind our table and chairs, up a winding path of rust-colored tile and past the children’s pool, cantina, and toddler play area, the two-story clubhouse is like a bright white seaside castle, complete with a courtyard and a big red fountain. It’s almost historic looking—Spanish, which is common in Florida, but especially here since we’re not far from where Ponce de León first arrived. That’s everyone’s go-to fun fact. Like, awkward silence? Ponce de León.
Lottie growls: “If you don’t play it, I’m gonna scream that you peed in the pool!”
“I would never do that!”
“They don’t know that.”
Hailey says she’s getting snacks and drinks, but there’s a fifty-fifty chance she’s at the spot with the perfectly placed palm trees, taking First Day of Summer selfies for her Instagram story.
“Would you tell me how to Instagram?” Mom says to me, as if she’s reading my mind.
“How to what on Instagram?” I blink.
“How to Instagram.” Mom sighs.
Lottie cackles again: “Is that a floating turd? Is it yours, Milly?”
“You get one song.” Milly groans in defeat.
Hailey sits down next to me and hands me a glass, cold to the touch and nearly overflowing with an Arnold Palmer. She sets down a basket of fries and chicken tenders with a little cup of ranch.
As my best friend and fellow admirer of GQ magazine covers, Hailey Birch appreciates hot guys as much as I do, which is why it’s almost a shame she wants to tie herself down with one guy—Justin Andrews. We’re only seventeen, after all. But Justin’s handsome, motivated, and completely sweet to her. Plus, he always gets me a coffee when he drives us to school. Things could be worse.
It all started when Hailey’s Mimi left the Philippines and moved in with them last summer. She was looking for an excuse to miss Sunday Mass—her parents pretended they hadn’t missed in years—so she signed up for a summer-long weekend surf camp, which lead to many extra one-on-one surf lessons with Justin.
The rest is history. And Hailey still can’t surf.
It’s just hard to understand how Hailey is such an effortless beauty—she’s wearing a red one-piece, her deep brown skin glowing in the sun and her lush windswept curls falling onto her shoulders—and now her entire life revolves around one guy. But that’s her choice and not all guys are Grant Kennedy, so I have to just root for her and Justin.
“Tell me you figured out the big hook for your movie.” Hailey nods toward my notebook, dunking a tender, and Mom looks up from her phone to us. Convinced she might meet a Hemsworth at Hollywood and Vine, Hailey wants my movie to be a total blockbuster for completely selfless reasons.
I think marrying a Hemsworth might be the only thing that could distract Hailey from winning Cutest Couple with Justin for the senior superlatives. It’s all I’ve heard about since we got back from winter break and realized we’ll be seniors this August.
“Justin might have some ideas, he—”
“It’ll come to me,” I say quickly, not ready to make this conversation about Justin. I do hope it’ll come to me.
“It definitely will,” Mom says. “Although it might not hurt to at least consider—”
“Mom, I’m going to win the competition,” I say.
Here’s the thing.
I sort of screwed up. Really, Grant made me screw up more than I was already screwing up, but I’m trying to listen to Mom’s advice and take responsibility for my actions.
My grades are mostly good—not perfect—and USC is not easy to get into. I always sort of knew I wasn’t getting in purely on grades. But then after Grant, it was like my brain just couldn’t do school. Or anything really. It was just looping my heartbreak, over and over, with no time for any other programming.
It was only really bad until December, but by then the damage was done. I had C averages in three of my AP classes and my GPA was seriously affected. Plus I’d absolutely bombed the fall SAT, despite months of studying. It was like it all flew out the window.
Young love is a bitch.
Now this contest is literally my only chance at USC, my dream school. The school I’ve wanted to go to for as long as I’ve wanted to work in movies, which is basically since I could start writing scripts and making Milly and the neighbors act them out. I’ve never even imagined myself anywhere else. Nowhere else will get me where I want to be.
There are severable notable (i.e., Oscar-winning) USC alumni on the board overseeing the competition, and if I can win a mentorship, I’m guaranteed a letter of rec that will stand out.
USC is the best of the best. It’s in the heart of the film industry and even has its own Hollywood Walk of Fame star. Plus, USC has the First Look Festival for students’ work, which has an industry jury.
Kevin Feige, aka the president of Marvel Studios—who produced the highest grossing film of all time before the Avatar re-release I don’t speak of—applied to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts six times before he got accepted. Six!
Let that sink in.
“I want you to win,” Mom says. “You’ve just been struggling with the screenplay for a while now. It’s healthy to have options. That’s all.”
“Who has the time for options?”
“I simply meant USC isn’t the only school. What happens if, for any reason, you—”
“I’m going to USC,” I say, desperate not to have this conversation with Mom again.
She’s always been supportive, but ever since this terrible Grant-induced writing block struck, she’s been pushing for backup—more “viable” options. Safer bets, thanks to my guidance counselor calling USC a reach school.
The phrase reach school actually makes me want to throw up. Like USC is something I’m reaching toward, not something I have. She says I have to stand out from all the killer GPAs and SAT scores with my creative materials.
To name a few, there’s an autobiographical character sketch, my essay about my most challenging moment, and my writing sample. Then there are the letters of recommendation. That’s where the Reel Sunshine competition comes into play.
I think in my mom’s mind, I’m being impractical. A dreamer who screwed up and lost his shot. But I can still make it happen.
“I just need the hook to be perfect,” I say. “Once I have it, I’m gonna really work my ass off, and it’ll all come together.”
My mom points to Lottie. “Your sister can hear you.”
Robby Weber is a Florida-based writer who loves sunshine, summer, and strong-willed characters. He can normally be found as close to the ocean as possible with his dog, Arthur, and a novel from Reese’s Book Club.
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