Expected publication: September 15th 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Format read: ARC via publisher
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.
Leila introduces us to Arden, a seventeen-year-old who has been defined as being "recklessly loyal" to her friends and family her entire life. However, it's hard constantly feeling like your worth is being defined by your ability to help others, which eventually leads Arden to look for camaraderie online.
She finds it in the form of the blog Tonight the Streets Are Ours, a blog written by art student/NYC writer Peter. One things leads to another, and Arden is eventually inspired to drive to NYC to find Peter, in an adrenaline-driven night full of surprising answers and revelations...
Arden's journey is a familiar one for many young adults; the idea that one is essentially defined by their usefulness to others, is one that many a young teen has likely struggled with. However, where Tonight the Streets Are Ours stands out, is Sales's decision to have Arden look for solace online.
While Leila never clearly explains why Arden finds Peter's life so intriguing - a question echoed in the Kirkus review - readers will likely instinctively understand Arden's gravitational pull to the blog, and to Peter himself. Not only is it cathartic to get an intimate look at the ins-and-outs of someone else's life; it's also clearly reassuring for Arden to see that she's not alone in her struggles to figure out parents and relationships.
It's escapism at its most intriguing, and also representative of the idea that at the end of the day, individuals really just want to be understood. Sales does a nice job of echoing this storyline within Arden's family, and we see how Arden's struggles are echoed within her parents. It's a reminder that life isn't what we always want it to be and what we think we see, a lesson furthered by Arden's trip to find Peter.
Though the trip takes several unexpected turns, including a revelatory moment that opens Arden's eyes, it's a reminder on the importance of not taking things as face value, just as important as it is to learn to love and protect one's self. Arden looks for Peter to find the answers that she thought she wanted, but gets so much more in return.
Instead, it's a romance of self-love, where Arden learns to value her wishes and her input, while also continuing to listen to the wishes of those around her. She learns that in a world with shifting dynamics and altering loyalties, that her opinion does count, and she doesn't have to constantly prove herself or take care of others, in order to be loved.
It's a subtle but important lesson for all young readers, and I appreciate Sales's willingness to recognize the value of teaching readers to protect themselves, physically and emotionally. I highly, highly recommend this book for all readers.
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About the author:
Leila Sales (www.leilasales.com) is the author of the novels This Song Will Save Your Life, Mostly Good Girls, and Past Perfect.
Leila grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Chicago. When she's not writing, she spends her time thinking about sleeping, kittens, chocolate, and how to get more of all of them. Leila lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in children's book publishing. Follow her @LeilaSalesBooks.