Friday, April 8, 2016

Tonight the Streets are Ours

Tonight the Streets are Ours
Leila Sales
FSG, 2015  342 pgs.
Grades 9-Up
Realistic Fiction

Sales follows up her widely popular This Song Will Save your Life with a new tale of an unconventional romance. Arden feels that she loves other people more than they love her back. Her beautiful actor boyfriend takes her for granted, her best friend, Lindsey, constantly needs rescuing and her mother left the family several month ago, leaving her with a distracted father and needy little brother. In order to combat the boredom and frustration of her life, Arden begins to read an on-line journal/website of a boy names Peter called "Tonight the Streets are Ours". Peter traces the loss of his brother and the ups and downs of his relationship with his fabulous girlfriend, all under the backdrop of the lives of privileged teens of New York City. Arden becomes obsessed with Peter's life and finally, after a disappointing anniversary date, she and Lindsey leave for New York to find him. Miraculously, they track Peter down and what follows is a crazy and memorable night. Arden and Lindsey have a huge falling out at a wild Brooklyn party and Arden leaves her to be with Peter. After the initial luster wears off Arden realizes that Peter is not exactly as he presents himself on his website and that his readers only see one side of the story. She also comes to terms with her relationships and finds a healthy resolution for all of the dysfunction. We leave Arden older and wiser at college, no worse from her crazy New York City adventure, but changed for the better.

Tonight the Streets are Ours is a wild romp, much like Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Many small town teenagers will live vicariously through Arden's adventures and will relate to the universal problems and frustrations she faces with the various people in her life. Who wouldn't want to escape their troubles and run away to NYC for a crazy night? Especially when all turns out better in the end. This is not the stuff of great fiction or lasting importance, but it is decently written, reads quickly and is a lot of fun. Sales begins the book by claiming that its a love story--and it is to a certain point. Not a conventional love story, Arden does not fall in love with Peter as the book leads you to believe will happen. Instead, Arden learns to love and respect herself and develops functional relationships with her parents and best friend. Although I respect Sales for not turning the novel into a cheap "happily-ever-after" romance, the ends are tied up a little too neatly for my taste. Arden works things out with her mother a little too easily and everything gets fixed in the last twenty pages, but teenage readers appreciate a clean ending. I felt anger towards the adults in this book, but at least they were present and Arden forces them to take responsibility for their behavior. This is a book that will be devoured and enjoyed by teenage girls.There is no dystopian gloom and no one dies of Cancer, so for my money, its a winner!

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