Book Review: Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Published: 26th June 2007

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288

Genre: Contemporary Romance,  YA

Recommended Reading Age: 14+

Rating: 5/10


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.

Final thoughts on finishing Two Way Street: Was that it?

And: I wonder if the author was being sponsored by MySpace for writing this book?

Sometimes you just want to while away an hour or two with a lighthearted, if predictable, contemporary romance. Unfortunately, this one lacked the spark, tension, wit or banter that makes these type of stories so compelling. Two Way Street is a simple tale that has been done before and since, and if I’m honest, done better.

It doesn’t help that the entire story is basically given to you on the back of the book. We know Jordan has broken up with Courtney. We know he still loves her and has obviously ended their relationship for a mysterious reason, no doubt in a misguided attempt to ‘protect’ her. We know that they are being forced to spend several days in close quarters on a road trip and can easily anticipate there will be heat, tension, fights, misunderstandings, revelations and a suitably romantic conclusion. Unfortunately, the ‘mystery’ reason of why Jordan breaks up with Courtney and pretends to have a new girlfriend, is not only pretty weak, but it’s also all to obvious within the first 50 pages of the book. That, combined with the fact that Jordan and Courtney lack any sort of chemistry, means Two Way Street has about zero tension, sexual or otherwise.

I quite liked the way the story was told. We get two perspectives, Courtney and Jordan’s, which works nicely and allows the reader to understand both sides of the story. The narrative jumps back and forth between the two characters and from the present day (the road trip), to moments throughout their relationship, starting from their first meeting, through to the break up. Since the plot was so basic, this worked without being confusing at any point. There were also some rather sweet moments between Jordan and Courtney, and I did find myself hoping they would work things about. I liked who Jordan became when he was around Courtney, even if I found her to quite uptight and controlling for a lot of the book.

One problem Two Way Street has is that there are no likable characters. The parents, what little we see of them, are selfish and self-absorbed. The best friends aren’t amusing or entertaining. Jordan was a strange mixture of caring and respectful whilst dating Courtney, and a playboy jerk, who thought about and treated a lot of girls poorly before meeting her. I also hated Courtney’s slut shaming tendencies. I don’t think there was a single girl in the book who she didn’t insinuate was sleeping around in some way. None of the characters really felt fleshed out or developed.

Two Way Street also feels a little sloppily put together. Little inconsistencies like a character sipping chocolate milk one moment, taking another sip of her ‘soda’ the next, then two paragraphs later finishing her chocolate milk, nagged at me. There are some underlying family issues that are never properly explored. The ending is disappointingly anti-climatic and sort of just peters out, nothing is really resolved or worked through, among any of the characters.

Two Way Street isn’t a terrible read but, sadly, isn’t an especially strong one either. I was hoping for a fun, cute story, with some sparks between the main characters, but it turned out to be rather lackluster instead. The constant MySpace references got annoying very quickly, not to mention, really dated the book. In the end I was left not regretting picking up Two Way Street, but wondering what the whole point of the story really was. If you’re looking for contemporary romance with a road trip, I would recommend picking up Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour instead.


3 thoughts on “Book Review: Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

  1. I have to agree with your first comment, you do finish and go okay was that all. It’s an okay read but I do prefer Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour like u say 🙂

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