Book Reviews

[review] Two-Way Street – Lauren Barnholdt

Release Date: June 6, 2007
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal copy (from three years ago)

There are two sides to every breakup.

This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They’re even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation.

Then Jordan dumps Courtney — for a girl he met on the Internet.

It’s too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney’s heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days. La la la — this is Courtney pretending not to care.

But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot.

Turns out, he’s got a secret or two that he’s not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can’t get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other.

Discovery: I stumbled upon this book during a book sale and picked it up on a whim.

+     Complexity. It seems like such a light novel when you first open it. I started reading this book out of pure boredom-I literally closed my eyes and waved my hand around my bookshelf and took down the book it landed on. And it is a light book, there’s no doubts about that. A girl is dumped by her boyfriend because said boyfriend is interested in a new girl he met on MySpace. Unfortunately, they have a road trip planned at the end of the summer to drive up to school. Cue the dramatic music, woo woo. Even the characters’ names are light: Courtney and Jordan. What’s the worst that could possibly happen? Infidelity? Ding ding ding, winner takes the prize! But not Jordan’s infidelity. Not Courtney’s, either.

You laugh a lot while reading this novel, but when you find out the truth? Wow. Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I’m PMS-ing and in my emotionally-vulnerable state, I let it dig its thorny way into my heart. Either way, I cried, and it doesn’t really take a genius to guess why, once you read the book.

+     Characterization. That said, I would never have liked this book without some really strong character development. Without spoiling anyone, all I can say is Courtney’s a far stronger person than I have ever been. She’s braver and she’s stronger. I wasn’t able to be that strong when it happened to me. Jordan didn’t disappoint me at all–even when Courtney railed at him constantly, I didn’t find it difficult to sympathize with his emotions and dilemma. Their friends were hilarious as well, making the novel a perfect high school tale.

–     Portrayal of adults. This will be kind of confusing, but bear with me. I did not like the way Courtney and Jordan’s parents were written at all. I understand that in a YA novel, the young protagonists take center stage, but that doesn’t mean a writer can slack off when it comes to the older characters. In fact, that’s a cop-out because the young ones would have learned what they know FROM the older characters, making them essential to the development of those main characters. Does that make sense?

The few times their parents show up in the novel, they’re practically breezing by, without any real solidarity to their words, emotions or attitudes. Courtney’s dad is the best example of this. I felt like any and all gravity in the situation dissipated when he was included in a scene, because he feels like a complete joke. It made Courtney seem like she was overreacting, when she wasn’t and it’s not fair to any of the characters involved.

Recommendations: If you’re looking for a clever and romantic take on a break-up, Two-Way Street is your book.

Rating: Very good.

Go check out Lauren Barnholdt’s website and follow her on Twitter @laurenbarnholdt.

You can check out Two-Way Street on Goodreads and order it over at Amazon and Book Depository.

Next review:  Wild Roses, Deb Caletti


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