*image via Goodreads
Like all the stories, the one you are about to read is a love story.
If it wasn't, what would be the point?
Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of people is just was she does, especially when it comes to her family, boyfriend - Chris, or her best friend Lindsay. Being self-sacrificing has been her thing since she was a child. She does it completely out of love. Her loyalty is such a part of her identity she was even immortalised in perfect porcelain doll form, when she had an American Girl Doll named after her.
One day he stumbles upon 'Tonight The Streets Are Ours’, a blog written by a teenage boy called Peter who lives in New York. She soon finds herself fascinated by Peter’s life and his story. His life in Manhattan is so far removed from her own in small-town Maryland. When Peter writes on the blog that he’s been dumped suddenly by his ‘perfect’ girlfriend - Bianca - Arden takes a risk and decides to road trip to the city to see him. In one crazy whirlwind night out, with Lindsay in tow, Arden soon discovers things aren’t as they seem with Peter. And maybe Arden will learn a little bit about herself along the way too.
So what’s my verdict?
I have a lot of feelings about this book.
First of all the choice of first person perspective was totally apt and necessary for this story to work. We only see Arden, her friends, her family, and even Peter through her eyes. Her story is one of awkward self-discovery, and whilst it can be frustrating it’s so important to remember she’s only 17 years old. Yes, she’s incredibly loyal, but she’s also in some ways, naive, self serving and (as I’ve seen some reviews) incredibly unlikable. But that's the thing, Arden will obviously paint herself in a good light. In her own mind she's always strives do good and to be good, but as it turns out is not the best way to live your life sometimes.
As for the other characters, again, as we’re seeing them through Arden’s eyes they aren’t painted in the most favourable way. Her father is a workaholic, her mother an deserter, her boyfriend is kind but totally goal orientated, and her best friend Lindsay at times is a bit of a freeloader. Peter is portrayed her escape. Through his blogs she sees him as the ultimate good. He too is just trying to do the right thing - something Arden clearly identifies with.
With these characters in place it was hard not to predict that the inevitable tensions buried under the surface explode - sometimes at the worst possible moments. Not only does Arden learn a lot about herself but we also see everyone else growing and developing throughout the story.
All in all what's most interesting about the story is not Arden herself or even her story, but the running themes of perception, self-sacrifice and love in all forms. Sales captures the reality that we can never really know the full story and whilst we want to believe we’re always the good guy in the story, sometimes we’re our own worst enemy too.
A Place In This World: Taylor Swift
Fools: Troye Sivan
This City Is Contagious: The Cab
Friday Night: McFLY
Manhattan: Sara Barielles
The Mixed Tape: Jack’s Manequin
Just Watch Me: Kate Voegele