Friday, 10 July 2015

Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales: Review

Title: Tonight the Streets Are Ours 
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux 
Buy this book: Amazon (US) / Amazon (UK) / Book Depository
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 tried of being loyal to people who don't appreciate her-including her needy best friend and absent mum.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 girl 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 discovered that Peter isn't exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn't exactly who she thought she was either. 
I read and reviewed Leila Sales other book, This Song Will Save Your Life, way back in December of 2013, during my first few months of blogging. That book turned out to be one of my favourite books of the year and is still a book I consider a favourite of mine. When I heard the great news that Leila was finally releases another YA book, I might have been ridiculously excited/ridiculously nervous (We all know the feeling!). I saw the cover, which is stunning and makes me want to own the book just so I can photograph it, and the summary and I got way more excited than nervous. The book sounded so good and I was adding it to my to-read shelf on Goodreads and getting frustrated that I had to wait for it. I finished the book and I can't quite say that I loved it, but I did enjoy it and I didn't feel disappointed or that it didn't live up to my expectations.

The book starts with the words:
Like all stories, the one you are about to read is a love story. If it wasn't, what would be the point?
And the fact that it also ends with similar words, it seems only right that I had assumed that this book was going to be a love story. And I guess, in the end, it was.... just not at all in the way you were probably expecting. What struck me the most about this story was the fact that I came away from it really enjoying the book as a whole, whilst seemingly hating all of the characters. It just goes to show the kind of writer that Sales is, she can write those flawed characters that make you want to shake them, but they're real. I appreciate real characters, even if I do want to reach into my book and whack them all upside the head.


But first I want to talk about the characters, because I like to rant about things and these guys give me endless opportunities! You could probably have worked that out for yourself if you follow me on Goodreads, as it was really the only thing I updated my status about.


My main problem with Arden was that the girl was just beyond frustrating. The only thing she knows about herself is that she's fiercely loyal. She protects the people she cares about and does whatever she can to help them. But she never really thinks about whether these people actually need, want or even asked for her help. Plus this book is about a girl basically tracking down a blogger, a guy she's never met or spoken to. So I have to side eye the girl a bit and want to steer clear of her and her Kathleen Hale ways!


 Take this for example, when she has an epiphany that the thing this guy needs, after being dumped, is some random girl he has never met.
What Peter needed was someone like Arden.
No.

He didn't need someone like Arden. He needed Arden.

She sat up. Peter needed her - and why shouldn't he have her?
You've never spoken a word to the guy, how can you even begin to assume you know what the guy needs. Back off, woman!

Arden's mother is an important character in this story, having walked out on the family. All Arden knows is that her mother is exactly 311 miles away in New York City, and she refuses to allow her mother to explain why. I hate these kinds of parents, especially when I come across them in YA novels. Those parents who just seem to think it's okay to put themselves before their children and walk out. Okay, so maybe you didn't get to do everything you wanted in life because you had children.... Maybe you should have thought about that before you popped out two children. Now own up to your responsibility, don't walk out on it! I just can't buy into the whole bullshit thing of : I've had children and this has clearly had an impact on my life, as it would. But I am not pleased with how it's worked out... so I'm just gonna fuck off for a while and do my own thing and leave you guys to suffer because of poor decisions I made in my life. Bravo, bitch, great parenting! I just wanted Arden to go hunt her down and call her out on her bullshit, the woman needed it.

My exact feelings for Chris.
Then we have Arden's father, the kind of guy who would get a dog put down because he's too much work to look after. Are you kidding me? Just go away. What is wrong with these two? Why did they think procreating was a good idea, they clearly shouldn't be trusted to raise children as they both suck at it. We also have Arden's boyfriend of ten months, Chris, whose whole relationship with Arden feels like the very definition of a rebound. Not to mention he gives her limited time or attention and doesn't seem to really care strongly about her. He's like purposely neglectful enough that we won't care when their relationship inevitably falls apart, which it will because we are waiting for our love story to happen - and love stories don't happen with guys like Chris.
supernatural animated GIF
How Peter should have reacted.

And it doesn't stop there, I was also frustrated by Peter, our blogger, and didn't really understand Arden wanting to track the guy down. He sounded like a whiny little boy to me, I wanted him to grow up and move on. He falls for Bianca in what feels like a minute and they date for a month before she breaks up with him, and he acts like his world has ended. And then repeats the process, like the absolute idiot he clearly is. Not to mention the fact the guy doesn't run for the hills the moment a strange girl goes 311 miles just to track him down. What is wrong with you? You just got legitimately stalked and you don't even blink.

WOAH! A lot of character frustrations and yet I did not dislike the actual book. Leila Sales didn't disappoint me and she definitely delivers with her writing. I just really connect with her crisp writing style, it gets me swept up in her stories and makes it hard for me to put the book down until I'm finished. I love how subtly she can deal with tough subjects, so that it never feels preachy or that you're having it rammed down your throat.

There is a moment in this book where Arden finally meets Peter- I'd suggest skipping ahead two paragraphs if you feel knowing someone's ethnicity is a spoiler - and she realises that he is Asian, something she hadn't even thought about.
For one thing, he was Asian. Arden had just assumed he would be white, like she was, like almost everyone in Cumberland was. She felt immediately guilty for expecting, however subconsciously, that everyone she met would look like her.
glee animated GIF That was an eye opening moment for me because I realised that, up until that very point, I'd also been picturing Peter as white, subconsciously. I'm terrible at picturing characters in my head, I usually just see them as blobs. But I realise that, unless it's stated otherwise, I think I might subconsciously imagine the characters as white as well. Sales hit on something that I feel is true for a lot of people, we sort of project ourselves on to the characters sometimes, and imagine them being like us in some ways. It was a brilliant point and I felt just as guilty as Arden did for assuming... We already covered above what happens when you assume - you make an ass out of u and me!
Maybe loving somebody means simply they bring out the best in you, and you bring out the best in them - so that together, you are always the best possible versions of yourselves.

4/5 Butterflies

This review was hard for me because the only thing I really wanted to talk about was the characters. That's because they were interesting and real, they pissed me off for many different reasons but their flaws were what made them real. Sales isn't one to write perfect characters with no flaws, her books always contain characters that you can relate to because nobody's perfect. We all have things we'd change about ourselves and others, things that we have to come to accept about ourselves, just like the characters have to do here. This was a fabulous book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Whilst This Song Will Save Your Life is still my favourite book by the author, I do still highly recommend this one.

20 comments:

  1. It sounds like there was some good and bad to this story but overall it was still very much worth it to read. I had no idea this author was so amazing. I should try her first book for sure.

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    1. I loved her other book, this one wasn't as good but I still enjoyed it.

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  2. I knew this was about a girl who goes to meet a blogger, but I had no idea how stalkerish the scenario was!! Wow that quote you have up there... just wow!! It's a little presumptuous for her to say what he needs is her when he has no idea she exists and she DOES NOT really know him. I mean.... And hahah to the Kathleen Hale comment. That does sounds a little Hale-ish. Man, I just don't know about this one... especially what you said about the dog!!! I just can't do animal deaths!

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    1. The dog thing really got to me!!! I know, the whole stalker element was a tad creepy and the guy just was not bothered at all. I'd have been a lil' scared.

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  3. Yeah, can't say I'm feeling like picking up this book to be honest. Something about it doesn't sit right with me, and that's not a good thing. Gah, so pleased you liked it though, and I plan on reading This Song very soon, but not this one..

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    1. I hope you love This Song if and when you read it! :)

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  4. Damn Arden does sound a little crazy. So do most of these characters actually. Makes me a little nervous haha. The parents sound particularly slap worthy.

    I'm like you on the picturing people as always being white unless I'm told otherwise. Thinking about it, I find that I don't actually feel guilty about it. I guess because the only thing I know is being white, and it's not like I would be disappointed if a character isn't white. That would be crazy.

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    1. That's a good point. I'm not disappointed either, I just kinda imagine them like me I guess unless told otherwise. Then I can imagine them how they actually look... but just in blob form! haha

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  5. Fantastic review!
    I still haven't read This Song Will Save Your Life, but I will soonish. I promise.
    I'm with you and I love real flawed characters, because we're all flawed. BUT based on your character break down I don't know if I could get over all the character rage. Awful parents can tend to lower my rating and enjoyment of a book as well.
    Is Peter stupid? Maybe he just likes the attention that some crazy stalker girl would come hundreds of miles just to find him. Restraining order alert. But to each their own. I guess...
    There's a perfect quote from Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda that says the same thing. I will admit to white washing as well. Unless the author tells us the characters ethnicity. I hate myself for doing it. I'm just glad more and more books are becoming more and more diverse and it's helping with the white washing.
    “White shouldn't be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn't even be a default.”
    Happy reading!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

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    1. You might be kind of spot on with Peter, which just makes him even more stupid!!!
      That is a brilliant quote and gives me more reason to go and pick up the book.

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  6. For a while there, I didn't think it was going to make 4 stars. Whew! :)
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal - Impartial, Straighforward Fiction Book Reviews

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  7. Hm, now this sounds like an interesting book! Like it goes and takes a bunch of characters you can't help but hate, but makes them into a good book. As if the point was for them to be so hated, because they were realistic as well. I am not sure about this book because it seems like a good read in a twisted way. I think I am approving of it.

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    1. I think you should give it a try ;) It was a decent read, and I kind of liked how much I hated all of the characters!

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  8. From what I've seen before this, people either loved this book or hated it. But what you said about how you were able to enjoy the book as a whole while hating the characters and how the author makes the characters real, that makes me want to give this book a try. Hopefully, I'll end up liking it :)

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    1. I hope you do to. I enjoyed the book, I just didn't like the characters. But I guess you don't always need to love the characters in order to enjoy the book.

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  9. Hmmm…not sure what to think about this book. It's usually almost impossible for me to like a book if I don't like the characters and these characters sound frustrating. I'm sure I'll end up reading the book, but I'll brace myself. Thanks for the honest review! ~Pam

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    1. I know, I was surprised by how much I loved it, even though I didn't love the characters. I love the authors writing though, which helps.

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  10. This cover is gorgeous, but perhaps I won't get this one read anytime soon. We'll see. I've got so many it's tough to know where to start. :D Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts.

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    1. Thank you :) Hope you enjoy it if you ever do read it!

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