Title: TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS
Author: Leila Sales
Publication Information: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Recommended For: People who enjoy road trip books and internet friendships.
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.
(Summary from Goodreads)
I picked this one out at the library because it sounded a lot like something I would’ve been able to relate to as a teenager (minus the hunting down someone from the internet part and also minus the parties, because I was super cool and stayed in on the weekends). While I was mildly concerned about the whole tracking down a stranger from the internet aspect of the book, I did love Arden’s character development, so that ultimately outweighed a lot of the issues I had.
Arden starts out the book believing very strongly that her purpose in life is to help everyone else out, and often does this at her own expense. Throughout the book, she comes to realize that while it is good to help others, she also has to acknowledge that it’s important to take care of herself, too. I thought Sales handled this very well, for the most part, and Arden’s character development was the highlight of the book for me.
I say “for the most part” because one thing that helps Arden on her journey is road tripping to New York on a whim to go hunt down Peter, the author of the blog she’s been reading. While I feel like this is in no way advisable, I feel like the impulsiveness of her decision was believable, given the Arden is seventeen years old. Recognizing that didn’t make me feel any less uncomfortable with that particular plot point, though.
There was also some family drama running throughout the book that I thought was handled well. Arden’s mom walked out on her family before the start of the book, so Arden figuring out how to forgive her mom was a huge theme throughout the book. Arden’s feelings toward her mom felt very believable to me, and I feel like the way it was resolved was realistically messy. Also, there are a lot of parallels between Arden and her mom as far as character development goes, so I found that very interesting, also.
While there were some aspects of the book I found problematic, I ultimately loved TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS for the character development. I’m definitely going to read more from Leila Sales.
TL;DR: Questionable on internet safety but strong on character development.