Recklessly loyal. That's how seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley has always thought of herself. Taking care of 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 everyoneincluding her needy best friend and her absent momtaking 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 musicthe type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything doesArden discovers that Peter isn't exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn't exactly who she thought she was, either.
About the Author
Leila Sales is the author of the novels This Song Will Save Your Life, Mostly Good Girls, and Past Perfect.
This Song Will Save Your Life garnered two starred reviews, was included on the American Library Association's Best Fiction for Young Adults list, was one of Bank Street College of Education's Best Books of the Year, and was listed as one of the Best YA Books of 2013 by Buzzfeed.com. It has been published in ten foreign countries, and it has been optioned for stage and film development.
Leila grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Chicago. When she's not writing, she spends her time thinking about sleeping, kittens, chocolate, and how to get more of all of them. Leila lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in children's book publishing.
Read an Excerpt
Tonight the Streets are Ours
By Leila Sales
Farrar, Straus and GirouxCopyright © 2015 Leila Sales
All rights reserved.
Like all stories, the one you are about to read is a love story.
If it wasn't, what would be the point?
Everything falls apart
"You can find your own way home," Arden says to Lindsey, her voice shaking with rage.
"Home ... to Maryland?" Lindsey asks.
The three strangers sitting on mildewing couches beside Lindsey look on impassively. The mannequin's head, which hangs from a noose in the center of the room, sways gently back and forth, like it's making eye contact with Arden, then Lindsey, then back again.
Arden hesitates. "I mean, if you need my help ..." she begins, but it's too late. Lindsey shakes her head. No. "Okay, then," Arden says. "You're on your own. Just how you wanted it."
"What's her problem?" the girl with a ring pierced through the center of her nose asks Lindsey, sneering at Arden.
Arden has almost never heard anybody speak about her in that tone of voice. Her stomach twists, and she swallows hard, looking to the boy by her side for support. He nods, and that gives her the courage she needs.
"I'm over this," Arden says to Lindsey. "Good luck finding your way out of here."
She turns and walks away, her legs trembling with every step. She focuses directly in front of her, navigating through the press of bodies and random sculptures of fairies and trees.
"Arden, wait!" she hears Lindsey call behind her, and she turns. But that must have just been her imagination crying out, because Lindsey is still sitting on the couch, talking to the pierced-nose girl, as if everything is normal. As if she doesn't even care that Arden is leaving her.
So Arden squares her shoulders. And she keeps walking away.
Let's go back in time
Two months before that night, back when Arden and Lindsey were still inseparable, when the only septum piercing Arden had ever seen was on punk rockers on TV and the only mannequins she'd encountered had been modeling clothes in store windows, shortly before the end of the school day on a Friday in February, Arden was summoned to the principal's office.
A runner showed up at her Spanish class and briefly consulted with Senor Stephanolpoulos, and Arden paid no attention because when the principal needed someone, it never had anything to do with her. Instead she took this break in the class to try to make sense of her notes, which were supposed to illuminate the future tense, but which in practice just said things like Irregular verbs ... something and Add "i" or "e" to end of words FIRST PERSON ONLY (??).
Spanish was not Arden's strong suit.
"Arden." Senor Stephanolpoulos beckoned her. "You're needed in Principal Vanderpool's office."
There were a few "Ooohs" from her classmates, but halfhearted ones; none of them actually believed that Arden Huntley, of all people, would be in trouble serious enough that it would warrant a visit to the principal.
"I'll take notes for you," whispered Arden's friend Naomi. Arden smiled her thanks. Naomi's notes tended to be word-for-word transcripts of teachers' lectures in stunningly legible purple-penned handwriting.
Arden lifted her bag and followed the runner out of the classroom, through a series of halls, and downstairs. Cumberland was one of those towns where land was at the opposite of a premium. It was in northwestern Maryland, so far west it was almost West Virginia, so far north it was almost Pennsylvania, a solid two-hour drive from the nearest big city (which was Pittsburgh), in a corner of the world that should have been called something like MaryVirgiPenn, but wasn't. All Cumberland had was land. As a result, the high school was sprawling, mega-mall-size — and the principal's office was at the other end of it.
Maybe Arden should have been nervous on that long walk to the principal, but she wasn't. She suspected this had something to do with her mother, and as such, she flat-out refused to care.
Eventually they reached Vanderpool's office, and the runner left her under the watchful eye of Mr. Winchell, the principal's geriatric secretary. Arden waited on a too-small plastic chair that seemed better suited to an elementary school than to Allegany High.
When she thought Mr. Winchell wasn't watching, Arden slid her cell phone out of her bag and texted Lindsey. GOT CALLED INTO VAN'S OFFICE. WTF.
A minute later, Lindsey texted back. Arden knew that Lindsey should be in Earth Studies right now, so either she was cutting or she was texting in the middle of class, both of which seemed like plausible Lindsey behaviors.
OH SHIT was Lindsey's reply, and that gave Arden her first inkling that perhaps her best friend knew more than she herself did about why the principal wanted her. But before Arden could ask what, exactly, "oh shit" meant, Mr. Winchell snapped, "No telephones!" in the triumphant fashion of a man who has missed his true calling as a prison warden.
After another ten minutes of waiting, Arden was brought in to see the principal. Mr. Vanderpool was a preposterously tall human — so tall that it was easy not to notice how bald he was unless he was seated — who seemed awkward whenever confronted with actual teenagers rather than school board members or faculty. He rarely wandered the hallways and never showed his face in the cafeteria; his one interaction with the student body as a whole was during assembly, when he would stand on the stage and address them en masse from afar. He had a seemingly endless collection of novelty neckties, which was either the one area of his life where he gave himself permission to entertain whimsy or was his sad attempt at appearing kid-friendly. Arden wasn't totally sure that Mr. Vanderpool knew who she was, as this was their first proper conversation in her nearly three years at his school.
"Arden Huntley," he said once she was seated in his office, on the other side of his desk. "Do you want to tell me why you're here?"
Arden blinked at him. "You called me here, Principal Vanderpool."
He looked pained. "I am aware of that. Do you want to tell me why I called you here?"
Arden really wished that Lindsey had said something a little more useful than "oh shit."
"Um, I don't know," Arden told the principal.
He cleared his throat and reached into a drawer in his desk. What he pulled out was a small plastic bag filled with some brownish flakes. "Does this look familiar?" he asked Arden.
He sighed. "Arden, we found this bag of drugs in your locker today."
"What were you doing in my locker?" Arden blurted out, even though that was, perhaps, not her most pressing question.
"Routine random locker checks," Mr. Vanderpool replied. "But what I'd like to know is, what was this" — here he shook the baggie — "doing in your locker?"
Now Arden knew exactly what Lindsey's text message had meant, and she knew the answer to the principal's question, as well.
She and Lindsey shared lockers, as they shared pretty much everything. Thanks to stupid school bureaucracy and geography, they had been assigned lockers on opposite ends of the building from each other, and from where most of their classes and activities were. So Lindsey usually used the one that was officially Arden's, because it was closer to the gym, while Arden usually stored her stuff in Lindsey's, which was right by the theater and library. They had always known each other's combinations, to school lockers and to everything else, and Arden had seen nothing but benefits to this sort of sharing.
But that was before Lindsey, apparently, stashed a bag of pot in her locker.
Arden knew that Lindsey got high sometimes: weekends, parties, whatever. People did that — not Arden, but people, fine. But how could Lindsey have been so dumb, so thoughtless and foolhardy, as to bring it into school? Their school had a zero tolerance policy, a minimum three-day suspension for any student found in possession of any sort of drugs, no matter what kind, no matter what the quantity — though if they were worse drugs, in higher quantities, you risked a longer suspension or even expulsion. Everybody knew this.
But the worst part, for Lindsey, was that getting caught with drugs meant you were immediately kicked off all sports teams for the rest of the year. No way around it. And Lindsey lived for the school track team. She loved running roughly as much as Arden hated it. Not only that, but being recruited for track was basically Lindsey's only hope for getting accepted into a good college. She didn't have a whole lot else going for her. This was not, by the way, Arden's opinion. This was the opinion of countless guidance counselors, teachers, and Lindsey's own parents.
Arden knew what would happen if she explained how that bag of marijuana wound up in her locker. Lindsey would lose it all. Over one casual, stupid decision, and one massive helping of bad luck. That sounded about par for the course for Lindsey.
But fortunately, Arden didn't play any sports.
Let's go even further. Let's go way, way back
When she was nine years old, Arden Huntley was turned into a doll.
It's a very competitive process, to be a doll.
Only one girl gets this honor each year, and there are a lot of rules. She must be between the ages of eight and twelve. She must be a United States citizen. She must write an essay explaining why she thinks she has what it takes to be the Doll of the Year, and she must submit this essay to the Just Like Me Dolls Company by July 1, and if her application is chosen above all the other thousands and thousands of girls who are vying for this honor, then she and only she will have a Just Like Me Doll modeled after her that goes on sale six months later.
When she turned eight, Arden's grandparents gave her the Just Like Me Doll of that year, whose name was Tabitha. Tabitha had brown skin, brown eyes, and brown hair. Tabitha was a ballerina. That was her "thing." They could have given her Tabitha's barre and Tabitha's performance tutu and Tabitha's pointe shoes as well. Instead they just gave her Tabitha herself, in her normal, everyday leotard, and the four illustrated books that told the story of Tabitha's life. Arden would have preferred the pointe shoes to the books, but she dutifully wrote a thank-you note anyway.
Tabitha's first story was called Tabitha on Stage, and it was about Tabitha's performing in The Nutcracker and how she took a leadership role to get all the mouse dancers to work together. The next one was called Break a Leg, Tabitha! and was about how Tabitha helped teach ballet at an underprivileged elementary school. Maybe you are starting to get a sense of what the Just Like Me Dolls' books are like.
Arden didn't know anything about the real-life Tabitha, not even where in the country she lived, but she was fascinated by her. Whenever Arden saw a black girl around her own age (which didn't happen all that often, since Cumberland was overwhelmingly white), she would stare at her, trying to figure out if maybe this was the real Tabitha. Then her mother told her this behavior was rude and borderline racist and asked her to please stop.
Arden dreamed of becoming a Just Like Me Doll, but she didn't see how to make that happen, since she, unlike Tabitha, did not have a "thing." She didn't do ballet, or gymnastics, or figure skating (all of which would lead to excellent doll accoutrements). She played soccer but badly, she took swimming lessons but only so she wouldn't drown, she hadn't quite yet gotten the hang of riding a bike without training wheels. She drew pictures that her mother called "abstract" and wrote stories that never got gold stars and got cast as fish number two in her class's production of The Little Mermaid. One time she tried to cook something, and she exploded a glass mixing bowl on the stove. After that, her mother banned her from the kitchen.
What Arden did superlatively was this:
She was nice.
She absolutely killed at reading buddies — all the kindergartners fought to be paired up with her. She was the first to volunteer to collaborate on group projects with the kids who got bad grades. She was never without a hair elastic or tissues, just in case somebody needed to use them. One time she paid the library twenty dollars because her friend Maya had borrowed a book and lost it somewhere in the park, and that was enough to make Arden feel responsible.
Arden came by her niceness honestly. Her grandmother was nice. Her mother was nice. Her house was filled with wall art and embroidered pillows with quotations like If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all and Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty and You become responsible forever for what you've tamed. You're responsible for your rose — this last one being a quote that her mother loved from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince.
The height of Arden's kindness career came near the end of third grade, though she didn't know it at the time. Her dad had been representing someone who worked for the Disney corporation, and when the case was over, this client had, in gratitude, given Arden's dad family tickets for an all-expenses-paid trip to Disney World. This was easily the best thing ever to happen to Arden, or possibly to anyone.
And then she met Lindsey.
It was a Sunday in May. Arden's brother, Roman, who was three at the time, was throwing a temper tantrum, as he did every single day, sometimes more than once. This particular tantrum was about how their cat, Mouser, was maliciously hiding under the couch instead of playing with him.
Arden escaped to the woods just behind her house so she wouldn't have to listen to the screaming. She brought her Just Like Me Doll with her, even though her parents repeatedly asked her not to do this, since Tabitha had cost more than a hundred dollars and was already, after about five months, looking decidedly worse for the wear.
And it was there, in the woods, that Arden first encountered Lindsey.
She saw a tall, skinny, dark-haired girl in between the trees, focusing on a long metal device in her hands.
"Hi," Arden said to the girl she did not recognize.
The girl looked up from the metal thing.
"I'm Arden," said Arden. "You're in my woods." As soon as she heard the words come out, Arden realized they sounded selfish, and she hastened to add, "It's okay that you're in my woods. There's enough woods to go around. I just thought you should know."
The girl gave Arden a weird look, and Arden wondered about the sentence There's enough woods to go around. That was what her mother always said, like when she and Roman got grabby over a pint of ice cream. There's enough ice cream to go around. Maybe it didn't make as much sense when it came to woods.
"These are my woods, too," the girl said in a low, uncertain voice.
"I don't think so. But like I said, it's okay. You can play in my woods."
"We just moved in there." The girl pointed to the house behind Arden's. Its backyard abutted the small section of woods, like a mirror image of the Huntleys' own home. "So I think these are both of our woods."
"You're right," Arden said. "We're neighbors!"
Arden learned that the girl's name was Lindsey Matson, and that she was finishing up third grade, too, and that she and her parents had just moved to town from a farm.
"You had your own farm?" Arden demanded. "Did you have sheep?"
"Did you have horses?"
"Two of them!"
"Did you have zebras?" Arden had a particular yen for zebras.
"That's okay." Arden hadn't really expected Lindsey's personal farm to house zebras. She just thought it couldn't hurt to ask.
Lindsey told Arden that her dad had gotten very sick. He couldn't work on the farm anymore, and they couldn't afford to pay anyone else to do it. So the Matsons sold the farm, they sold the sheep and the horses and everything else, and they moved here.
"It's very expensive to treat cancer. Especially the kind my dad has," Lindsey told Arden, sounding somber but also a tiny bit proud, like her dad was special for having a special kind of cancer. "That's what this is for." She gestured at the long metal object in her hands.
"What does it do?" Arden asked, wondering if the answer was somehow "cure cancer."
"It's a metal detector," Lindsey explained. "I'm looking for coins. Preferably gold. That would help pay for my dad's hospital bills."
"How much have you found so far?" Arden asked.
"Nothing. But I just started looking."
Excerpted from Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales. Copyright © 2015 Leila Sales. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Everything falls apart,
Let's go back in time,
Let's go even further. Let's go way, way back,
Arden gets more than she bargained for,
Arden and Lindsey see how the other half lives,
Why doesn't anybody love Arden as much as she loves them?,
When Arden's mom left,
Arden realizes that the grass is always greener,
Things with Chris weren't always like this,
Stalking people, take one,
The parakeets vs. the wolverines,
Arden's mother explains herself,
Stalking people, take two,
Sometimes, people aren't who you want them to be,
What happened on the best day of Peter's life,
Arden hears her calling,
On the road,
The heart of the Heart of Gold is called into question,
Dinner with Peter,
An early spring night's dream,
Lindsey and Arden don't see eye to eye,
And that brings us up to the present day,
Arden is a catch,
Arden feels like she's flying,
Arden goes back to the start,
Sleeping with Peter,
The morning after,
Brunch with Bianca,
Going home for the first time,
Arden finds out what love isn't,
A garden of gardeners and flowers,
Lindsey's big night,
All stories must come to an end,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
R.I.P Hazel. I still remember your birthday. <br> Natsu x Amethyst. <p> I am at my knees in front of her coffin. Hi eyes filled with tears. All i can do is think of what i couldve done for her. What i shouldve done. I remember what Igneel had told me to do when crying. "Dont cry and scream about what you will do at the sky." I repeat quietly and stand. I stare at the sky but cant bring myself to go more than a whisper. "I will live for you, Amethyst. No matter what it takes, youll be in my heart forever. Ill miss you so much. And if it takes finding a cure to everything, to keep anyone from suffering like you did, i will do that." I look down at her as she is lowered inti the ground. "I dont think i can keep that promise though. I cried. I said i wouldnt, but i did." I lower my head. "Goodbye..." I turn and walk away, i couldnt turn back. I just couldnt, not without feeling like dying inside. I just keep walking until my feet cant take it anymore. <p> Hazel Diamond Bells, April 17th, 2001 - April 10th, 2015.
http://functioninginsanity.blogspot.com/2015/10/tonight-streets-are-ours.html Rating: 4 Blank Checks This is a story of the recklessly loyal Arden. She is always taking care of everyone else, it gives her purpose and makes her life matter. Though as of late she's become a bit resentful of everyone, from her mother who abandoned them, to her best friend and even her boyfriend. She wonders something I think we all may have wondered at one point or another, 'Why does nobody love me as much as I love them?' This is how she stumbles upon a website/blog called Tonight the Streets Are Ours, an online journal of a NYC aspiring writer named Peter. His ramblings and thoughts have become a voice to things Arden has never known how to express herself. Though they have never met she finds in his writings understanding. Until one night after a road trip she finds Peter. Together they have one crazy night out on the town where anything can happen. Everything seems perfect, but what you see on the internet might not always be the whole truth. Maybe Peter isn't as perfect as she thought. Maybe she isn't who she thought she was. This story was a really interesting read. I went in not knowing much about it, just that it involved a road trip at one point and it was about self discovery. That's it. I kind of liked going in blind and just letting it unfold before me. It wasn't super happy or super sad, more reflective. It's about Arden and her journey in finding out how to deal with the world she is in. She cares so deeply for people and when they don't seem to care as much for her it hurts and makes her wonder why. I myself have always found that I am there and care for others many times more than they do for me. Some people are just more emotional than others. I found myself relating, in a small way I'm not nearly as nice as Arden, to her. I wanted her to figure things out and find a way to come into her own. There wasn't anything wrong with her as a person for caring just that she lets her devotion for others rule her world at times. When she finds the blog and begins to read it I instantly liked Peter and his writing. I was looking forward to when their lives would merge. I wanted to see what would happen. I found the characters to be pretty realistic, I've known people who could have easily been these people. While I didn't always agree with them, it was told in such a way that it seemed so real. I was caught up in the quest of self discovery. The journey is just as important as the destination. Peter, while not our main character felt like he was a bit as most of his story was told from a journal POV and as such we were in his head and heart. It's not a typical feel good happy RomCom but it made me happy. It also sheds light on what perspective can really mean. One persons view of how things happen could be vastly different when someone else recounts the same events. I liked that aspect. It makes you think about an story you tell and how the other parties involved might have viewed it. The epilogue sums it up pretty perfectly. That's all I have to share with you today. Anything more would ruin the journey I think. I enjoyed Tonight the Streets Are Ours and went through it pretty quickly once I sat down with it without constant interruptions.
I’m a huge fan of Leila Sales and when I saw she had a new book coming out, I knew I had to read it. I really enjoyed Tonight the Streets Are Ours but if I’m honest, I was expecting a bit more. Arden has always described herself as recklessly loyal. Her niceness and longing to help others, even if they can’t help themselves, is deeply ingrained in her. On a particularly rough day when she does a seemingly random Google search, she ends up finding Peter’s blog, Tonight the Streets Are Ours. The blog isn’t really a blog, it’s more like an online journal. He describes his family situation and his life. In particular, he discusses his recent heartbreak. After a particularly sad night of her own, Arden decides to track down Peter and meet him. But when she does, he’s not what he seems and Arden begins to question herself and her choices. The plot to Tonight the Streets Are Ours was a bit slow and Arden only gets to New York (where Peter lives) about halfway through the novel. I expected the majority of the novel to be set when Arden meets Peter but that is not the case. Even though this was the case, I really enjoyed the plot otherwise. The world-building was spectacular and I could really connect to Arden, despite the 3rd person POV. The writing was different from what I expected and I really liked it. The 3rd person POV was a bit distancing at times but by the end, I enjoyed it. I could really connect to Arden and her voice was definitely distinct and unique. The only other thing I was iffy about was the romance/lack of it. I’m still not sure how I feel about that since it worked for the novel, but not for my personal taste. Even though it wasn’t a romance, the novel was about love and the different types of it. So in that way, I guess the first line “Like all stories, the one you are about to read is a love story.” is somewhat accurate. Overall, I enjoyed Tonight the Streets Are Ours even though it wasn’t what I expected. I do recommend it for contemporary lovers and for fans of Leila Sales’ previous works, just to see its uniqueness.
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Macmillan Children's Books and NetGalley.) “Using all your awesome powers of self-reliance, you can find your own way home.” This story started out quite slow, but it improved towards the end. Arden really did put herself on the line for her best friend Lindsey in this story, and Lindsey seemed perfectly happy to let that happen. I felt quite sorry for Arden in this respect, because while she shouldn’t have put her future on the line for Lindsey, Lindsey really shouldn’t have let her do it! What kind of a best friend is she?! The storyline in this was pretty slow, and then we got a really quite random road trip happening, which was a little bit crazy really. Why Arden got this idea in her head I don’t know, but what she did was actually quite dangerous, going to try and find someone you have never met or spoken to before? She could have ended up dead! The book did improve towards the end though, and I liked how Arden’s ideas about a certain person proved to not be accurate at all, and she also learned something about herself and her relationships. I wouldn’t call this a love story though! 7 out of 10
"Like all stories, the one you're about to read is a love story. If it wasn't, what would be the point?" Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. She wants to be someone people come back for; to be someone who is not taken for granted. But that seems impossible when her best friend Lindsey is incapable of appreciating everything Arden does to keep her out of trouble and when Arden's own mother has chosen to walk out. Arden finds comfort and validation in an unlikely place when she comes across a blog called "Tonight the Streets Are Ours" run by Peter, a teenaged writer in New York City. Peter's blog mirrors Arden's own frustrations when Peter also wonders why no one loves him as much as he loves them. Arden is fascinated by Peter's musings and his life that seems to be filled with luxury, adventure and, of course, a beautiful girlfriend. Until she dumps him. When Arden reads about the breakup after her own disastrous day, she knows there is only one possible course of action: Road trip to New York City to find Peter. During one crazy night in New York City Arden will discover that Peter isn't exactly who he seems. And maybe Arden doesn't have to be either in Tonight the Streets Are Ours (2015) by Leila Sales. Tonight the Streets Are Ours is an obvious progression for Sales' writing and it is absolutely fantastic. The first thing readers learn about Tonight the Streets Are Ours is that it's a love story. And that is absolutely true. However this book also subverts preconceived notions about happy endings what love stories can actually be to deliver a story that is both perfect and empowering. Nothing and no one is quite what readers first expect in Tonight the Streets Are Ours. Everything here is muddy. Readers quickly learn that "truth" isn't always the same as "fact," in real life or online, as everything Arden thought she knew about Peter--and to some extent herself--is challenged again and again. Tonight the Streets Are Ours defies expectations in this story where friendships can bend but not break, family can mean all sorts of things, and sometimes perspective is all you need to change everything.