Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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.
I very nearly gave up on this book. The only thing that kept me in it was my habit of reading the very last page when I get frustrated. Yes, I know, I’m terrible. Worked out in this case, though, because it gave me hope that all the BS I was reading was just bias. And since it was, the book as a whole turned out pretty good.
It was an interesting little character study about love and its many varied forms. It’s not really a romance story, but more about love between friends and family, with a side helping of some creepy obsession. (I had the benefit of age giving me red flags about the obsession, part of my frustration in the middle of the novel, but at least it all came to light by the end.) I loved all the characters and their squishy foibles, especially the relationship between Arden and Lindsey. And Arden and her mother. And Arden and Chris. They were all terrible relationships, but that was rather the point, and they were interesting. And I’m really happy to see a character like Arden, who embodies the downside of a “too nice” type character so beautifully. I also really enjoyed the comeuppance at the end of the book, the way all the one-sided stories got to have their other sides brought to light and the way it changed so much.
I was drawn to this book originally because of the plot (internet + bad decisions born of emotional turmoil? Sure!) and at first I was really happy with it. The scenes where Arden first found Peter’s blog were very poignant and echoed my own experiences searching the internet as a misguided teen. However, once she did find his blog, things dragged interminably. We spent ages and pages in the middle of this book, still establishing character relationships, jumping constantly between the ongoing story and flashbacks. It seemed excessive to me, as I felt like the book was pretty effective at setting things up early on and didn’t need the repetition, and I just really wanted to get to bad decisions in New York! Considering her trip there was the focus of the summary, it’s really frustrating that she didn’t leave until well past the 50% mark. Plus…I really liked the comeuppance part; I wish that had had more page-time.
Peter’s blog didn’t really strike me as the type of thing that would draw in…well, anyone, much less inspire the kind of obsession that would make someone drive six hours on a whim. Maybe he was more eloquent in the blog posts that were skipped over, but the ones we did see had such a bland writing style, and they were 99% “so this happened today” with maybe 1% angsty musings. And I was really looking forward to some angsty musings. Isn’t that the best/worst part of the internet? Because unless you fought a bear, a recount of your day just isn’t going to draw in a wide audience and get tons of random strangers telling you “omg you’re such a good writer!”
Rating: 4 out of 5