Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales | Rating: ★★★★☆
"Hurting people, really, deeply hurting them - that isn't something you do on purpose. It's just a by-product of living.”
As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
Tonight the Streets Are Ours is a sweet, heartfelt, thoughtful and fascinating addition to every young adult’s contemporary shelf. The novel is the genre at it’s finest; a coming of age story that will capture adults and teenagers alike. And it is without a doubt a wonderful inclusion to anyone’s library and was at the top of my to-read list for 2015.
And it should be on yours, too. Luckily for you, readers, it comes out tomorrow–September 15th, 2015. If you are a fan of the genre, and looking for a new contemporary to read, or a fan of Leila Sales: this book is absolutely for you!
Leila Sales writing is quick paced, poetic, witty and embraces raw human emotion perfectly. It just has a perfect flow to it and warmed my heart for some reason. And while this is my first experience within one of her stories readers will fondly remember her as the woman who penned This Song Will Save Your Life.
I cannot compare it to any of her previous work, but I can say that it was a wonderful read and I’m so thrilled and honored to have been given the chance to devour it.
Let’s start off simply, shall we?
Her characters are vivid and complex and she brilliantly captures the way our narrator views the world. I loved them. I loved their goodness and their flaws and how real their stories felt.
I loved watching Arden discover Peter’s blog and the way she approached many obstacles in life.
I liked, in particular, how many layers there were to each and the reminder that things aren’t always as they seem. That there’s always two sides to every story.
Leila fleshes each plot and character and setting gracefully; crafting a cast of characters that feel as real to us as our best friends, our families, our classmates and yes; even strangers we admire from afar. I was surprised how fond and connected I felt of each of them.
It’s not a difficult read, so it’s not time consuming–but the beauty of it is that the simplicity doesn’t water down the story that she is trying to tell. She conveys a great deal of emotion in such a small frame of time.
There’s something undeniably relatable and sweet to Arden, too. She’s something of a girl next door but not in a dull, bored-to-tears, stereotypical way. I enjoyed a lot about her, including her backstory (how she met her best friend and how she was a doll-of-the-year similar to American Girl dolls); her description as being recklessly loyal.
I cannot think of anything better to describe her. It just fits her completely. Arden is recklessly loyal. It’s neither a flaw nor a compliment, it just is.
It’s easy to fall into her thoughts and her days. I liked getting to know her in the way that I liked getting to know each of my closest friends–there was something intimate about her to me that I can’t quite put my finger on. I realize now it’s just that she was developed wonderfully.
I know that rereading this book will be like visiting an old friend, because that’s what I grew to feel for Arden.
Back to the story.
I liked that the theme was ever present and ever changing, much like life. I liked the idea of blank checks. Arden learns a great deal about herself as life passes her by, starting with her mother having left pre-book and ending with a whole lot of self discovery.
The pieces in between and earlier in her life are put together gorgeously. Arden is caring, thoughtful and in spite of this is still flawed to a degree. I enjoyed seeing her in those moments that she first discovered Peter’s blog and watched as his words spoke to her, captivated her. I think this happens to everyone, in a way, when idolizing someone else.
It’s a very prominent thing in everyone’s life and I think it will speak to teenagers who idolize people on YouTube or Tumblr or Twitter or whatever social media platform they’re surfing. I liked that Peter wasn’t perfect and that maybe his story was embellished to victimize himself, maybe it wasn’t.
I feel like this goes without saying, but there’s one quote that came to mind when Bianca and Arden meet; when Arden finds out another side to the story. You should never meet your idols.
I liked that the second part to the story took things to New York City where Arden and her best friend meet up with Peter and have adventures of their own. I thought the fight she had with her friend and the discoveries she made about Peter were handled in an incredibly realistic way that just kept the pages turning.
It felt real. I repeat: it all felt so real.
My favorite plot during the second half of the book is when Arden realizes a lot about herself and those around her. If you couldn’t tell, it was my favorite part about the book as a whole. It was a true coming of age story in the vein of Sarah Dessen and it’s truly a special novel.
Most importantly, I enjoyed the fact that Leila brought everything to a close and tied up some loose ends. It didn’t feel like an ending, more like a beginning to life.
I enjoyed the prologue, although I felt it was a little rushed compared to the tone that was set to the book itself. I don’t want to spoil it too much but I will say it was a delight to read and I liked that we saw a summary of what happened after the last chapter.
If you are looking for realistic characters and a solid coming of age story, Tonight the Streets Are Ours is completely for you. Leila Sales and her phenomenal prose will leave you feeling satisfied with your decision to pick up the novel. I promise you, you will be marking/highlighting MANY moments and quotes from its pages.
And also, how delicious is that cover art? I swooned.