Title: Tonight the Streets Are Ours
Author: Leila Sales
Published by: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 24th September 2015
Genres: YA Contemporary/Romance/Travel/Friendship/Family
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
You might remember that earlier this year I reviewed This Song Will Save Your Life, the debut of Leila Sales. As much as I wanted to like it, it just fell flat and I was disappointed. Despite that, I was still looking forward to her next book, Tonight the Streets Are Ours, because I had a feeling it would be better - and it was! I had a few issues with it but I ended up quite enjoying this one.
Tonight the Streets Are Ours sees seventeen-year-old Arden's life turn upside down when her mother leaves. Suddenly she's juggling school with looking after her younger brother Roman and her troublesome best friend Lindsey, trying to save a failing relationship with self-obsessed wannabe actor Chris, and to add to that her father prefers being at the office to being at home. Other than that, Arden's life is completely uninteresting and, eventually, she snaps. No one loves her as much as she loves them. That's when she decides to go on a road-trip with Lindsey to New York to find Peter, the blogger whose life seems much more interesting than hers and who really seems to get her. The only problem is, he has no idea she exists.
I'm going to say it now: this book has some pretty big flaws. For a start, the first half of the book dragged just like in This Song Will Save Your Life. I was so bored of reading about Arden's dull and less than eventful life in Maryland. Why dedicate half a book to someone who really doesn't have much going on? That's like writing an autobiography about an inanimate object like, I don't know, a biscuit. Luckily, the second half of the book was SO much better - seriously, that's when everything happened - but until then the only thing going through my mind other than how bored I was, was the question 'when are they going to get on the road?' I love road trips.
Secondly, I felt the stalking thing was a bit weird - unsurprisingly. Your boyfriend annoys you so you decide to drive for over six hours to track down a boy you've never met or even spoken to? It didn't sit right with me. It was made to seem romantic. I enjoyed the story that went along with it, but... it's stalking. Stalking isn't a romantic gesture or a fun thing to do, y'know? And Peter was weirdly okay with it. I liked his blog posts and I liked him when he and Arden explored the city together, but I never understood why he didn't question the fact that Arden and Lindsey not only drove hundreds of miles to see him but took measures to find out exactly what bookshop he worked in. (They called every single bookshop in the city asking if Peter worked there, if you're wondering. I know. I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of their stalking or their phone bill.)
I would like to go to New York, though. Preferably without stalkers. The setting was perfect and it was so much fun to read as Arden, Lindsey and Peter explored the city. The streets really were theirs, and it felt like I was right alongside them. I liked the ending, too - it surprised me and took a different route to that of the usual YA romance. I feel like Arden redeemed herself a little, there.
For me, Tonight the Streets Are Ours had some pretty big flaws, but I still enjoyed the book as a whole. It's not the best thing I've ever read, nor is it the worst. It's a good one for escapism and wanderlust, so if that sounds good to you then I'd definitely recommend this. If not, you probably don't want to bother.