I’ll be the first to admit that this is not my typical kind of book. I generally stick to the supernatural romps and if I break into reality, it’s generally only for John Green (my love for this man knows no bounds). Occasionally though, when I find a road trip book, I do dip my toes into this category. I also have to confess, that I primarily bought Two-way Street in hopes that it would recapture what I felt when reading Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. Once again I found myself on a trip and I wanted a book to accompany me both for entertainment and in hopes of reading something that truly connected with the feelings invoked by going on a journey and finding yourself along the way.
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.
Unfortunately this didn’t occur. For one, I read this while stuck on the tarmac of the Austin, Texas airport for four hours (I was trying to reach Baton Rouge, Louisiana- don’t ask, long story that I WILL tell and you’ll then regret it thoroughly) so all I was feeling was intense aggravation and frustration- not the joie de vivre and freedom that comes from road trips. Secondly, despite the fact that the bulk of this novel is told while Courtney and Jordan are driving from Florida to Massachusetts, this is not a road trip book. It’s not really about the journey, the open road or the adventure, but more about two exes that still love each other but are pretending to hate one another choking up a car with their drama, and the subsequent flashbacks to their relationship that led them to this point.
This was obviously not what I was expecting, nor something I would have sought out if I’d known what it was really about, and the characters were anything but what I typically enjoy. That said, what I ended up really liking about this book was that it was so high school. These aren’t idealized- smoothed and/or angsted-out-for-the-masses teenagers. Courtney is that uptight girl who over-thinks everything, overreacts and gets all her latest information from MySpace updates (which I won’t lie, this bugged me until I realized it was written in 2007 when people actually used MySpace). Her master plan for surviving a mandatory road trip to college with her ex, whom she thinks dumped her for a girl he met on MySpace, is to 1.) be a grade-A you-know-what to him, 2.) ignore him entirely, 3.) make him jealous by letting him think she’s suddenly madly in love with her bff Lloyd (that he hates) who you kinda-sorta-made-out with the night before. Courtney is legitimately psycho, but not in the Dexter kind of way, and instead is more “oh god I knew/was that girl in high school.”
Jordan is a quintessential bro (see definition here) who before Courtney, hooked up with half the school, partied hard, cares about nothing, and had the fat-boy wingman ala Varsity Blues. He thinks exclusively about boobs, beer and bongs, has rich parents and somehow got into Boston College despite this. Don’t lie, you knew/know those guys too. Then one day he walks in on his Mom doing some random guy on the couch, and he’s suddenly faced with the real world. His solution to this is to clearly avoid being home at all, and when he meets up with Courtney at a party one night, (despite knowing her for years, he notices her for the first time when she’s wearing a mini-skirt and grinding on him like Christina in her “Dirrrty” video). Rapidly Courtney turns into his main distraction, a solid foundation for all relationships, and the womanizer and the mouthy and brainy-still-hot chick are in love.
Their subsequent decline and break-up is not for your average reason. Jordan had “good intentions” and was trying to protect her, and being a 17 year old bro, he chose the most asinine way possible of doing so, but then again, what teenage boy doesn’t make stupid decisions from time-to-time? Eventually, communication and common sense prevails (shocker!) and the teens find that being honest with one another makes every one’s lives easier. But since this book portrays real teenagers and isn’t an after-school special, the reader understands the moral of the story, but the characters don’t necessarily go “thank God for communication!” they just reap the benefits of it.
Now I realize this is a strange review. It sounds like I didn’t like the characters and the book wasn’t anything what I wanted it to be. This isn’t entirely untrue, but I did like the Two-way Street because reading it was like stalking my 18 year old sister’s Facebook page and seeing all the drama that unfolds every day in high school. Kids are catty and do mean and stupid stuff, they don’t know how to handle things the right way, and generally make a bigger mess out of things than needed. In other words, teenagers are people too, and all people, regardless of age, spend their time muddling through life and often times making bad decisions. So I loved that these kids weren’t perfect or star-crossed lovers that read as if they’ve got the wisdom of a 45 year old trapped in a high schooler’s body. I loved that I didn’t necessarily like them because they were the same people I didn’t like in high school- and that in a nutshell was the best part. This book made me feel like I was back in high school again.
Which in reality, since I was trapped on a tarmac at the time, didn’t do much to help my frustration and aggravation…