This writer isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. I knew from her last novel, This Song Will Save Your Life, that Leila Sales wasn’t afraid to shun the warrior woman in favor of a more realistic, passive protagonist. It wasn’t really surprising to find that her second book featured a girl who felt like she was at the mercy of everyone around her. I think that there are a lot more girls who will see themselves in Arden than, say, Katniss Everdean. I thought the beginning of this book was boring, but the ending made up for it. I did give it three stars, but they were a good three stars. In my opinion, this is a book you snatch up from the library, but I’m not sure it is a hardback you need hanging around forever.
From the author of This Song Will Save Your Life comes a funny and relatable book about the hazards of falling for a person you haven’t met yet.
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 tired of being loyal to people who don’t appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.
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 girlfriend 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 discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.
Arden’s crippling weakness is her belief that she is meant to nurture, even when it costs her more than she should reasonably give. Her journey in this book is about learning to balance personal needs with self-sacrifice. The problem was that the author took almost half of the book to set this journey up. The exposition is entirely too long, and I quickly grew tired of the story, but the second half of this novel is entirely the opposite. Once Arden actually decides she has had enough, the pace quickly becomes much more engaging. Her one night in New York is just as fun, unpredictable, and enlightening as any reader could want. I think this author excels when the time frame is compressed, and I hate that the endless weeks leading up to the important night might have readers stopping before they get to the best part. The ending left me feeling good, so I was left with a positive impression of this book as a whole. I think this story can appeal to a wide audience. There are any number of nice, selfless girls who will see themselves in Arden, and they can also see that you don’t have to change who you fundamentally are as a person to get what you want and need out of life. That is an honest and realistic message that many readers can take to heart. There is also a message in there about seeing all sides of a story. Arden invests her time in a blog, and she becomes attached to her idea of what the author is like without having any real interaction with him at all. This is an all too common experience in the digital age – people feel like they have a relationship because they are interacting emotionally. It can lead to some very dark and dangerous places. I’m not altogether sure that this book stresses exactly how dangerous Arden’s actions were, it actually romanticized it to some degree, so even though she learned the lesson about beware the people you believe on the internet, I wasn’t convinced she learned the beware of people you meet on the internet lesson.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.