Two For One (Again!)

Hi, I did that thing where I finished one book while I was out and about, and started the next book before I wrote about the first book, so here I am writing about both books at once! By the way, the reason I was away from my computer so long after finishing the first one is an amazing reason; I will be recapping that very soon.

But yes, book #72 and book #73 of my year are officially done. The two books had some things in common but were mostly totally different in good ways, and I enjoyed them both (it’s so rare for me to dislike a book, sometimes I feel like I should be pickier.)

I finished the first one on Wednesday evening; I was running late to a work meeting and I looked absolutely insane while I lurked in random streetlights to try and finish it. That’s something I took for granted in Iowa: no one would look twice if you were walking down the street with your face buried in a book. It’s just not done in New York.

Anyway, I read Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales. It’s a young adult book about a girl named Arden who stumbles upon and quickly becomes obsessed with a blog written by a boy during a time of change in her own life. It was very Sarah-Dessen-esque, which I loved.

Arden is a bit of a perfectionist who is generally careful about all things in life. She has a boyfriend who’s kind of a safe option but, she realizes throughout the book, probably isn’t really right for her. She has a workaholic father and a mother who, after years of being the stay-at-home mom, suddenly leaves her family to move 300 miles away and pursue her dream of graduate school. And she has a free-spirited best friend who she’s been close with since the age of 9.

Arden discovers a blog by a boy named Peter who wants to be a writer and who blogs about his day-to-day life in a way that Arden is intrigued by. This was kind of the central story in this book, but Arden also learns a lot about herself and her family, and is able to reconcile her relationship with her mom.

This book was pretty lighthearted overall, even though it touched on the disappointments of growing up and people not being who you think they are. I’m not really doing it justice, because I’m not in a lighthearted mindset because of the book I just most recently finished.

But if you life Sarah Dessen books, I think you should read Tonight the Streets Are Ours. It has that same Dessen pacing, where every chapter is a kind of revelation and the end is somehow rainbows and butterflies in a way you didn’t see coming and which is also somehow not nauseating.

The book I just finished tonight: Weightless by Sarah Bannan. So really the only thing this book has in common with TtSAO is that it’s also young adult, though much darker and somehow more literary. And now that I’m thinking about it, maybe it’s not young adult at all, but just a story about young adults… the perspective is intentionally vague in a really interesting way.

The book is about a small town in Alabama, and specifically a group of Juniors at the small high school there. A new kid is added to this class, and the story covers the span of the year that she attends.

Weightless is told from this unnamed, semi-omniscient character who refers to herself as “we” throughout the entire book; I think this “we” is a group of girls who used to be friends with one of the girls who got popular, and who now thrive on following this popular group around literally everywhere to hear their gossip.

I don’t want to give things away because half the reason this book is so cool is in the telling. It’s mostly about bullying, though, and especially how quickly cyber bullying can escalate, and the real and tragic possible outcomes of bullying. It highlights those uncomfortable moments that probably everyone can relate to, when you laugh along with someone even though their joke may make you sick to your stomach with its cruel intent, because sometimes laughing along is easier than saying something.

So the story was also broken up by months of the school year, and also punctuated with various faculty memos, PTA minutes, and Facebook statuses kind of revolving around Carolyn Lessing, this new girl from New Jersey.

It also highlights various community-member hypocrisy when it comes to their own children. Ah, it was just really good and really, really important. I didn’t experience a lot of bullying in my high school, but I still wish I had read this book while I was there.

Hooray for good and important young adult books. ◊

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