Monday 12 October 2015

Book Review: Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales.

Product details:
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books.
Paperback, 400 pages.
Release date: September 24th 2015.
Rating:  3½ out of 5.
Ages: 12+.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

From the author of This Song Will Save Your Life comes a funny and relatable book about the hazards of falling for a person you haven't met yet.

Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she's tired of being loyal to people who don't appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.

Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called "Tonight the Streets Are Ours," the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.

During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn't exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn't exactly who she thought she was, either.

 Recklessly loyal, so much so that in childhood she had a mass-produced doll named after her stating the fact, seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley has always been there for her best friend, Lindsay. Where Arden is a good girl who always follows the rules, Lindsey is somewhat of a rebel without a cause, forever acting out and getting herself into all sorts of unsavoury situations. It could be said that Arden far from being Lindsey’s saviour is Lindsey’s enabler: if Lindsey didn’t have her best friend to cover up for her time and time again, then maybe she’d have to face the consequences of her actions once-in-a-while, and you know, stop doing all the stupid things. It seems kind of obvious, but not something that Arden, in all her martyrdom, really considers. Arden is so used to taking the fall for Lindsey that she doesn’t really even question it anymore.


Until one day Lindsey brings some pot to school and leaves it in Arden’s locker, which immediately lands Arden in hot water.  Instead of saying the drugs aren’t hers, though, Arden instinctively takes the blame for her friend, and is promptly handed a school suspension and a black mark on her permanent record; something that might jeopardise any future college career. Is Lindsey – or anyone for that matter- really worth that kind of sacrifice? Arden is (finally) starting to wonder about that herself. In fact, Arden is starting to question quite a lot of things that she previously took for granted. She’s starting to question the people around her – not only Lindsey, but her parents (who I’ll talk about later!) and her boyfriend Chris. Arden and Chris are committed to each other, but lately something has been feeling a little off – at least as far as Arden is concerned.

Our girl is having a rough time. And then there’s the situation with her parents. Arden’s mom in a fit of I-am-so-over-this-whole-parenting-thing left the house one day and still hasn’t returned three months later.   If you’re feeling sorry for Arden’s dad right now, don’t. He saw his wife’s departure as an opportunity to have the family dog put to sleep. What?!

When everything goes wrong in your life and you start to question everything you thought you could rely on, there’s only one place to turn and that exactly what Arden does. That’s right, Arden turns to Google, and asks the question: “Why doesn’t anybody love me as much as I love them?” This leads Arden to Peter who has asked the very same question on his blog ‘Tonight the Streets Are Ours.’ Peter, an aspiring writer, is in love with a girl called Bianca, but it’s a complicated – and drama-filled - union.  Arden is immediately hooked on Peter’s blog. And on Peter.  Peter just seems to get Arden. And she totally gets him. When a planned anniversary date with Arden’s boyfriend Chris turns disastrous, Arden immediately thinks of her kindred spirit who has just been dumped (again!) by Bianca. And so she makes a plan. She’s going to find Peter. She’s going to meet the boy with the beautiful words, the sensitive soul, and the broken heart; a boy who she knows only from what she’s read about him on the internet.  I mean, what could go wrong?

Though its characters are, at times, ridiculously self-absorbed and it contains a plot that packs less of a punch than I had hoped for, I nonetheless enjoyed Tonight the Streets Are Ours partly because of Sales engaging writing, but mostly because of its original concept.*  In this Social Media age where our thoughts are condensed into 140-character tweets and where Instagram stamps its glossy filter on every aspect of our lives, it’s so easy to feel that we truly know people by how they present their internet selves. But, do we really, as is often said, overshare on every aspect of our lives, or do we really only share precise snippets of what we want people to know?  As Arden finds out when she meets Peter, you can only ever know the truth of someone when you finally meet them face to face.

*Also, reading Peter’s blog/diary is pretty addictive. I totally understand how Arden got herself hooked!

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