Book Review: Tonight The Streets Are Ours
ashley | I really love books about lost people finding some inspiration and ultimately finding themselves. It always seems to motivate me and fill me with inspiration. The description of Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales gave me that familiar inspiration before I even opened the book. It seemed so young and wild and free! I wanted to experience this carefree night for myself.
Usually when I relate to lost characters like this, they’re outcast misunderstood angsty teens. But Arden’s a pretty straight edge girl. She has good grades, she likes to learn, and she doesn’t get into trouble at school. She is super nice and “recklessly loyal”, if you will. Arden doesn’t really have any passions though. She doesn’t really have a “thing”. She basically sacrifices any individual need or desire for other people, leaving her kind of hallow and reliant on everyone around her. This is a whole new level of lost I haven’t read much about.
When we’re first introduced to Peter, it’s through his blog – er – website. I liked how conversational and casual his blog posts were. It really made him stand out as his own character before we actually meet him as a character. It was a good break from the story, too, this little insight into his life. I think this is one of the first books I’ve read that focused on the connection people forge with the writer of a blog or an “internet friend”, thinking that because they’re reading someone’s personal thoughts, they really know them. Similar to how people react to celebrities. I thought this was well done and a great approach to take.
The opening lines of this book say this is a love story. And it is. But it’s also a desperately lonely story about love and loss and abandonment. All of these people are longing to be loved, longing for some kind of compassion and have been abandoned and left behind in one way or another. It kind of made my heart ache a bit. But then you see how this longing kind of thrives and feeds on its surroundings and how a simple infatuation can turn into a more obsessive passion. I know that this reaction is normal for teens, I know I felt as obsessively infatuated with people in high school and it must be even harder to manage with the internet helping you look so intimately into everyone’s lives, but reading this now, it all seems kind of stalkery and a bit unhealthy.
It also seemed really selfish. I thought so many of these characters were very selfish. And by the end of things, I honestly didn’t really like many of them very much. I know that’s half the point here, that this is a very realistic look at the dark side of human connection and longing, but it didn’t sit well with me. Nor did some of the messaging I took from this: abandon your children because your responsibilities are hindering your independence and your husband isn’t playing fair. You can break up with your perfect boyfriend that you don’t really like anymore only if you think you can do better, but you can’t, so stick it out. If you think it’s fate, it’s okay to kiss your friend’s girlfriend. Not to mention all the backhanded judgements everyone made of their supposed friends and boyfriends. These people, they wanted to be loved and accepted, but most of them just lied and misrepresented and betrayed the people they supposedly cared for most.
I mistakenly thought this book would be focused mostly on Arden’s carefree escape from her otherwise mundane life, but she didn’t embark on her life-changing road trip until mid-book. Internet stalking aside, this actually revived the book for me for a short period of time and was more of what I was expecting from this story.
That said, I just thought I would enjoy this a lot more than I did. I guess I thought it would be a lot more about self exploration and finding yourself, not chasing after a fantasy love you built up in your mind after stalking a person online for weeks. I mean, I guess it worked out in their favour and Arden did find something she was looking for, but the whole thing just reeked of desperation and while that may be accurate for a lot of young love and this was a very realistic take on how these feelings manifest and how life sometimes happens, I was hoping for a stronger message than ‘you aren’t anything until you find someone to love you’.
September 15, 2015