Saturday, February 25, 2012

Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt - Curse Much?

Pros: Fun, light reading
Cons: The surprising number of curse words may make some parents freak (teens, not so much)

The Bottom Line: While Courtney had her annoying moments, I'm surprised the cursing made it through the agents/editors, and the climax was ho-hum, I had a good time.

Normally I don’t read this sort of teen book. You know, the kind where the girl and the boy have issues but they love each other so much even though it’s still high school (high school – come on people), but for some reason it sounded like it might be fun when I took a quick peek at the back cover. Finally I picked it up at the library and got to read it in order to satisfy my curiosity.

Courtney hates Jordan. After all, he dumped for some chick he met on the internet. Who does that anyway? But she’s stuck going with him on their road trip to college – seeing as they’re going to the same school and all. Yippee.

Jordan, on the other hand, knows for a fact that this trip is going to suck, but he’s glad he’s with Courtney, even if she does hate him. Because he’s got a little secret that has to do with why he broke up with her – and it has nothing to do with a anyone he met online.

The book jumps back and forth in different ways. You get two points of view – Courtney’s and Jordan’s. However, you also get the present and the past. You get to see Courtney’s point of view during the trip as well as 125ish days or so before the trip. Same with Jordan. The number of days eventually tick down to the trip so you discover why Jordan broke up with Courtney and how she feels about him and so forth. You get the entire relationship in a rather neatly tied up package. It may confuse some people, but if you pay attention to the chapter names (which are the character’s names) and then the little subheadings that tell you where you are in time (i.e. 77 Days Before the Trip), then there’s no need to get confused.

It’s interesting to see how their relationship evolves. How they go from basically being strangers to growing close despite the fact that Jordan’s a bit of a player (aren't they all?) and Courtney knows better. But they become comfortable with one another and eventually realize they want to be together. It’s nice, actually, to see how well the author blended all this time and information together.

The conflict they have between them is definitely interesting. It’s not hard to guess what it is right away, but I don’t know if Lauren Barnholdt actually intended it to be a bit of a mystery or not. Doesn’t really matter though. I did have some trouble understanding just why Courtney’s dad had such a hold over Jordan (honestly, I think it would be the other way around) or how breaking up with Courtney would make any difference. But oh well.

I did have some issues with Courtney and her twitchy behavior. Some things didn’t really surprise me, such as dolling up for another guy that doesn’t actually exist in order to make Jordan jealous (how many of us ladies haven’t done it or at least thought about it?). But other things she said or did just came across as annoying or stupid. Then again, I need to remind myself – high school kids are still kids and do dumb things. Not everyone, of course, but come on. How many of us have looked back at our former selves and thought, “Wow…how ridiculous was that decision?” And anyway, people do act like idiots after breakups, especially when they’re still smitten with someone. So I guess plenty of teenagers will relate.

The ending where they finally confront one another was actually a lot less emotional and climactic than I expected, which sort of let me down. I was hoping for just a smidgen more, but just didn’t get it. Then again, that’s why I typically read fantasy/adventure/science fiction where reunions and relationships tend to be more dramatic and powerful.

I guess I should mention the cursing since I went and pointed it out twice above. I maybe it’s because I don’t read enough of this type of teen book and I’m not familiar with what’s acceptable and what’s not, but I really was surprised at the amount of cursing, or I suppose more specifically, the frequent use of the word "fuck." Not that it’s rampant in the book. It’s used like it probably would be here in the real world. And it’s not that I’m offended in anyway (heck, I have my moments where I curse like a sailor and cause people’s mouths to drop open when they finally hear me do so). It’s just that for a teen book, I’m kind of surprised that Lauren Barnholdt’s agent/editor let it through. Maybe it’s because she’s been published before and that’s her style. Maybe it’s that the teen market isn’t as strict as it used to be or as I thought it was. All I know is that even in my manuscripts (for adults), my use of limited swearing tends to get poked at. Odd, but maybe it’s just different. Who knows? However, it is something I know some parents may balk at, so just be aware I guess.

In the end it was a light, fast, easy read with an interesting little plot and happy ending. Just what I figured it would be. Curiosity satisfied.


Originally posted on

notes from the playlist: "Burning in the Skies" by Linkin Park

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