Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
Back Jacket: 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 heart-broken, 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.
This book not only alternates view points between Courtney and Jordan, it tells the story through alternating timelines: the past (“Before the Trip”) and the present (“The Trip”). I am not usually a huge fan of jumping timelines, but I really appreciated the way this allowed the characters to develop while putting their current predicament into their past context in a more exciting fashion than a linear narrative.
I also liked Courtney right off the bat for her kind of harassed, self-aware voice, which was perhaps most present in the opening paragraph:
I’m a traitor to my generation. Seriously. All we hear about these days is being strong women and standing up for ourselves, and now look what I’ve done. I should totally be one of those true life stories in Seventeen. “I Built My Life Around a Boy! And Now I Regret It!” Of course, it doesn’t pack the emotional punch as some of their previous stories, i.e., “I Got An STD Without Having Sex” but it’s important nonetheless. (Barnholdt, p. 1).
At the same time, I couldn’t fully relate to the deception/pretending/emotional crises between Jordan and Courtney while they pretended to be totally over one another. On one hand I thought it was a good way to conceptualize certain aspects of teenhood: it is emotional, and we sometimes make bad decisions and generally flail around, while also being like GIVE ME MY INDEPENDENCE, DAMMIT! On the other hand, my teenage years were nothing like this book.
The other thing that surprised me was that there are literally almost no descriptions of their surroundings. It is pretty much the uninterrupted thought processes (in the style of the excerpt) of Jordan and Courtney for the entire book. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did begin to wear on me after a while.
Conclusion: I recommend it for its fast, rambling humor. It doesn’t deal with heavy issues (like death, illness, drug addiction) but isn’t entirely lighthearted. It’s ultimately a story about honesty and facing the issues in our lives. 3/5 (Click here for an overview of my rating policy).
P.S. You can read a longer excerpt here!