Title: Tonight the Streets Are Ours
Author: Leila Sales
Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Macmillan/Raincoast Books for letting us read an advanced copy!
First off I want to say that the only reason I read this so soon is because it was one of those ‘will expire in 60 days’ deals and I didn’t want to forget about it and have it expire and have to re-download it or whatever cuz then I would have just skipped it. And I did not want to skip this book. This Song Will Save Your Life is a favorite of mine and I was really excited to see another book coming out by the same author.
Sadly this just didn’t do it for me like TSWSYL. Everything was just a little flat for me and I had trouble connecting with or liking anyone. The writing was tight, but lacked the emotion that TSWSYL did. I wasn’t able to connect to Arden or Lindsey at all. The little brother annoyed the crap out of me, the dad needed a good dose of reality (which he got) and the mother… I was torn on her. I wanted to be mad at her and tell her to wait until her kids were older to run off to try and get her shit together, but as an adult woman I could understand her need to get out of the situation she was in.
In Tonight the Streets are Ours Arden tells us a love story. About her friends and family and a random boy she met online. Now, when I read the synopsis of this I thought that she’d formed a relationship (friendship, whatever) with Peter, the author of the ‘Tonight the Streets are Ours’ blog that Arden finds and becomes obsessed with. But they never communicate at all. Arden just reads about his break up with his girlfriend, decides that Peter needs here and takes off to New York City (which is 300 miles away) in her shitty car (srsly, it’s a piece of junk) and her super unreliable best friend Lindsay.
I’m gonna stop right here and say that maybe I’m too old or this book. Because all I could think about was WHAT HAPPENED TO INTERNET SAFETY 101?! Are we no longer teaching teens that it’s NOT OKAY TO MEET STRANGERS FROM THE INTERNET?! Now before you yell at me about how ppl meet online all the time, I grew up with the internet. I was in middle school when regular old people could connect their Gateway desktops to their phone lines and sit there for ten minutes while it dialed up the World Wide Web. My parents watched all of the Dateline episodes about child predators lurking in chat rooms. TV told my parents that THE INTERNET IS DANGEROUS and they listened. That said I did meet TONS of people from the internet later on in life. When I was older. Or supervised by an adult. I met my college roomates and best friends on livejournal. I used to travel across the state to stay the weekend with a girl I met online. I met my husband from the Japanese equivalent of Facebook. I’m all for meeting people online IF YOU KNOW THEM IN SOME CAPACITY BEFOREHAND. So when I say that I did not approve of what Arden did it’s because she DIDN’T KNOW PETER. And as a blogger if some random person read my blog and then drove over 300 miles to meet me WITHOUT HAVING COMMUNICATED WITH ME I would not be pleased. And that was when this book really lost points with me.
Also Adren knows that Peter works at a bookstore in NYC and on their way down Lindsey calls all of them asking if Peter is working and one store is like ‘yeah he’s in today’. And that also scared the crap out of me because I just went through security training at my new job and you’re NEVER supposed to give out personal information over the phone to an unknown party ESPECIALLY SOMETHING LIKE IF THE PERSON IS AT SAID LOCATION. It could be ANYONE calling. A stalker (case in point), an angry family member, an armed psychopath. So yes it’s supposed to be clever on Lindsey’s side, but the actual safety of it made me cringe so much.
Anyway, Adren and Lindsey make it to NYC and they find Peter and meet him and go off with him to a party. ALL THE SAFEST THINGS IN THE WORLD. Arden seems SO proud that she knows all of this stuff about Peter from his blog and he doesn’t find it creepy at all (because Peter turns out to be an asshole), and I don’t know why Arden didn’t feel weird about it (I guess because she felt like she was entitled to Peter from reading about him). Now I’m pretty active on Twitter and I follow some of my friends that I see pretty often on there and once a friend of mine and I were talking and I mentioned something that I’d written on twitter and she was like ‘oh yeah I saw on Twitter’ and then we realized how fucking WEIRD it was and decided that even if we’d already known something from reading it on twitter that we wouldn’t say anything about it because IT IS WEIRD.
Anyway, so I did like that Arden slowly pieced together that most of Peter’s blog was a one-sided version of what he wanted people to know and that he’d actually just been writing in a way that made him look cool/the victim/desirable. That he’d left out entire portions of what was really going on and the real reason why his brother ran away and his girlfriend broke up with him. How he’d used his family’s issues to make him seem unloved when really he was the cause of a lot of the problems! Adren began to see that was someone wrote down on their blog didn’t necessarily mean that’s how they were like in real life and her image of him was shattered.
So if you’re expecting this to be a love story about Arden running off to NYC to find her blogger soulmate, it’s not.
There are also a few moments where Arden finally speaks her mind to her mother, father, Lindsey and her boyfriend. Those were well done and Arden needed to finally speak her mind, but they all seemed a bit canned and didn’t necessarily flow as well as they could have.
Overall this is not a bad book and I’m sure it will work for some people, but alas it just wasn’t meant for me.
One of my favourite books in 2013 was This Song Will Save Your Life. I found the novel moving, something I could relate to in a strong way. Needless to say, I was thrilled that Leila Sales was putting out another novel, one I was hoping to have a much stronger emotional connection towards. I have to admit, however, that while I enjoyed parts of this novel, I struggled to suspend my disbelief in some situations.
I will concede that I loved the idea of this novel being an unexpected love story, and I loved the exploration around this concept. I think Sales does a great job of grabbing the reader’s attention to show obsessed Arden becomes with the blog and the man behind the words. It’s easy to become infatuated with someone else’s words or the way in which they tell their stories, but I admit, I disapproved of Arden’s actions in going to NYC and seeking Peter out in real life.
I just had such a hard time suspending my disbelief for that, and I feel uncomfortable with the idea that someone would go that far to stalk someone’s blog. I recognize that it happens, but my discomfort comes from the fact that it at first comes across quite unwelcomed? Perhaps there’s just a part of me that was confused by how this was supposed to be a romantic gesture of sorts — and like my co-blogger said, there’s that part of me that felt out and questioned how Arden could be so damn trusting towards Peter. I understand that she feels like she knows him, but on the other side of the coin does she really? Again, the level of trust and lack of discomfort really threw me for a loop, and admittedly, I’m surprised that Lindsey as her friend would go along with this (mind you, she’s the more adventurous type compared to Arden). I really enjoyed the reveal in regards to Peter, and I loved that Arden learns how one-sided everything is after confronting him about his relationship with Bianca. I kinda wish Arden had been more upfront with Chris, but I do like how Sales shows cheating as a learning experience, though I still wish she hadn’t done that!
I will say, I actually loved the friendship between Arden and Lindsey. For me, that was the best parts of this novel — the way they had each others back, the way they could call each other on their crap, the way in which they took care of each other was pretty admirable. I also loved Arden’s growth in terms of her family problems and how she eventually is able to speak out about it to her parents and others. For me, those were the more interesting parts of the novel since I struggled to buy into the Peter relationship and the blog stalking. I just found those aspects so hard to connect with mostly because I was screaming STRANGER DANGER every few seconds.
I think Tonight the Streets Are Ours is definitely an engaging read, especially if you can suspend your disbelief with how easy a lot of aspects fall into the place. I found I liked the novel, but was just also very disappointed in how simple and easy a lot of the situations were. I wish there had been more to the consequences, because that really did frustrate me. I’m disappointed that I didn’t enjoy this book the way I did This Song Will Save Your Life, but I do recommend it to those who can suspend their disbelief and enjoy the narrative for what it is.