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Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 3/5
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Recklessly loyal. That’s how seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley has always thought of herself. Caring for her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But lately she’s grown resentful of everyone—including her needy best friend and her absent mom—taking her loyalty for granted. Then Arden stumbles upon a website called Tonight the Streets Are Ours, the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter, who gives voice to feelings that Arden has never known how to express. He seems to get her in a way that no one else does, and he hasn’t even met her. Until Arden sets out on a road trip to find him. During one crazy night out in New York City 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 think I've read most - if not all - of Leila Sales' books now. This Song Will Save Your Life will always be my favourite but I'd rate Tonight the Streets Are Ours alongside Past Perfect (although that one might have the edge because of the historical reenactment setting, which was nice and different). I suppose what I'm trying to say is Tonight the Streets Are Ours is a solid YA novel!

One thing I really liked about this book was the main character. Arden was so normal. She wasn't the most popular but neither was she socially challenged (we're past all of that now, right? That's what 21 Jump Street showed anyway...) She wasn't great at any one thing (except for being nice but that's not a talent so much as being a decent human being) but she also wasn't a degenerate. All in all, I liked her as the main character and the eyes through which we experienced this story.

The blog aspect was really interesting and timely. I've never met any of the bloggers I follow in real life but I can imagine for those who have, it can sometimes end up a little bit like Arden's encounter with Peter - especially for those in the lifestyle and fashion arena. Ultimately, this part of the story really highlighted the fact that what people put online is highly curated (I know we hate that word now but it's true!) - no matter how real their posts and photos might seem. This isn't to say people are liars but any time you start a project, you have an end goal. Writing blog posts, taking photos for Instagram, filming clips for Youtube and all of the other mediums I'm too behind to have caught up with yet all takes time, so an agenda needs to be set. Nobody has the time or resources to document every minute of their day for real - we know this from reality television (thank you series finale of The Hills).  So, all of what happens to Arden is important in reiterating this 'not everything is as it seems' message and people do need reminding. It's very easy to fall into the 'oh, woe is me, if only my life were like so and so on Instagram's life' trap.

I liked Arden and Lindsey's friendship. Everyone knows that in every relationship someone is the adored and the other is the adorer (or whatever the terms are). Sometimes it is very obvious, other times you have to look a bit deeper to discern which is which. I like that Arden got enraged because all adorers/givers/protectors are allowed to throw a tantrum every now and then for being under appreciated. However, she soon simmered down and came to terms with the fact that she's Lindsey's person (I will always be grateful to Shonda Rhimes for coming up with that because that one word says so much). It was also nice to see Lindsey maturing and gradually taking responsibility for her actions and even being proactive about certain things, along with truly coming through for Arden when it really counted.

Arden's parents story was quite heavy. I'm sure many relationships end up like theirs at some point and I'd actually quite like to read her mother's story! Again, the mother was the giver in the relationship and just ended up burnt out, so she had to recharge her batteries by fulfilling her dream to live in New York City. Moral of the story? If you're a giver, find your New York City and go there every now and then when you need a bit of a break.

Overall, Tonight the Streets Are Ours is a strong piece of writing. Originally, I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads or something like that but I'm finding ratings difficult these days. This book has something timely to say, which is the main point of writing (right?), so I would definitely recommend it to YA lovers. 

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