Saturday, March 19, 2016

Three Reasons to Read Tonight the Streets Are Ours

As I have said before, Leila Sales is the queen of contemporary YA. Her stories always contain a spectrum of emotions, from frothy and hilarious to serious and somber, and they all feature fantastic coming-of age themes. Her skills have landed her a place on my favorite authors list, and I am still unsure how it took me so long to pick up her most recent novel. But I finally read it over winter break and was not at all disappointed. There are far more than three reasons to read any Leila Sales book, but the following are my favorite three aspects of Tonight the Streets Are Ours.

the book

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Release: September 15, 2015
Source: Library
Recklessly loyal.

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. 

 three reasons to read it

In a day and age when many teenagers avidly follow online content creators and belong to various Internet groups (my personal favorites are Nerdfighteria and, of course, the YA book blogging community), a book that centers around a blogger and one of his readers feels refreshingly realistic. By the time Arden stumbles upon Tonight the Streets Are Ours, the site has gained a respectable number of followers who comment on Peter's posts the way real teenagers obsess over their favorite YouTubers and fan fiction writers. But we truly see the connection between content creator and consumer through Arden, who develops a fascination with Peter's writing. Despite the original one-sided nature of the characters' relationship, she relates to his feelings and values his ideas enough to travel 300 miles to meet him. This story mirrors that of several real-life teenagers and never could have been possible 30 years ago before the miraculous technology  of the Internet, and I loved seeing such an amazing-yet-increasingly-common story reflected in the pages of a YA book.

Arden, as this book's blurb states, is recklessly loyal. Willing to sacrifice anything for her friends and family, she lives her life with a "blank check" policy: if you need help, she'll deliver. But throughout the course of the story—as she meets Peter, begins to understand why her mom left, and more—she learns that despite her talent for helping others, she cannot disregard her own happiness in the process. This message of striking a balance between caring for others and caring for yourself is empowering and sure to leave a smile on readers' faces.

Tonight the Streets are Ours starts out by saying "Like all stories, the one you are about to read is a love story" and it lives up to that promise entirely. However, Arden's tale is not merely a "love story" in the usual sense. While it does include romance, it focuses equally on love between family and friends—and it does so with brilliant authenticity. I won't say any more, but I do highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a story that realistically portrays one teenager's relationship with the various people in her life.

Have you read any of Leila Sales's books? What about this one? Let me know what you think of one of my favorite contemporary writers in the comments. 


  1. I've really been wanting to read this just because of the cover - I didn't even know what it was about xD After reading your review, I think I'll pick it up soon! It'll be interesting to read a book about a blogger/reader.

    Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

  2. I had mixed feelings about this one because if you break it down technically it has a lot of good elements, like the three points you highlighted, but something about it I just didn't like. Guess it wasn't my cup of tea :)

  3. Okay, I may have to pick this one up now!

    *adds to TBR*

  4. I also really enjoyed this book and thought it did a great job showing online communities and that sort of fan behavior! I love this review.


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