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!
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!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?
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.|
|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.
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.
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.