September 10, 2015

Tonight the Streets Are Ours - Leila Sales

Author: Leila Sales
Pages: 342
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Source: BEA15
About: 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 feel like I flew right through this book.  The pacing was perfect, and physically splitting it into parts one and two really made sense for this story.  This book takes on a lot of things – different manifestations of love, people not being who you thought they were or who you wanted them to be, learning that you can’t live your life in a way that prioritizes and protects other people all the time…but it never felt like too much. 

I really liked Arden.  She’s lived her whole life according to this mantra that (the book’s version of) the Pleasant Company came up with for her when she won their doll of the year contest: recklessly loyal.  She even takes the punishment for her best friend Lindsey when she brings drugs to school.  (Note: this is an insane thing to do.  Do not try this at home.)  RECKLESS.  This is the event that really kicks off Arden feeling like no one would go to such lengths for her.  Not her best friend, not her boyfriend, not even her family who she is barely holding together.  Who, at some point, hasn’t felt like this?  Arden finds some solace in a blog asking the same question, “Why doesn’t anybody love me as much as I love them?”  She becomes obsessed with the story of Peter and Bianca.

A conflagration of events leads Arden to take off for the night with Lindsey in tow in search of Peter.  I think one of my favorite things about this story was that Sales didn’t take Peter too far into villainous territory.  It’s too easy at this point to play the ‘I’m not who I say I am on the internet, I’m actually a terrible monster’ card.  I like that Peter was the Peter from the blog, but Arden didn’t have the whole picture.  Of course she didn’t, we try to be our best selves on the internet.  Also, everyone doesn’t interpret our actions the way we do, they all have a different perspective.  All that being said, he did leave out/change some major details.

I really liked the parallels between Peter and Arden’s mom.  I liked Lindsey and have definitely had friendships just like this, that feel not totally one sided, but like you’re definitely giving more than the other person.  You can’t really force yourself to give less and you definitely can’t make them care more.  It’s really frustrating.  I also, as I may have mentioned, really dig tight timeframe stories and this really worked with the bulk of the story spanning one night.  Overall this was a win for me and I will definitely be looking out for more from Leila Sales.