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Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

A two-day road trip with an ex-boyfriend? This is not how eighteen year-old Courtney McSweeney wanted to spend her trip to college...at least not anymore. In Lauren Barnholdt’s novel Two-Way Street, the most unlikely of couples goes on an even more unlikely trip. Jordan Richman and Courtney McSweeney will discover more than they expect to on this grueling two-day trip. They might even find the courage to fill in the pieces of their breakup. With excellent characterization and interesting back-and-forth narration, despite more than a few age inappropriate conversations, Barnholdt does a wonderful job of bringing you into the story of these two stubborn eighteen year-olds.
One of the ways that the author draws readers into this story is with her excellent characterization techniques. Instead of simply reading about this trip, those reading this story will feel like he or she is a part of it, traveling alongside them through it all. From Florida to Massachusetts, she takes you into the lives of Courtney and Jordan, told from the characters’ point of views, and gives you details of their lives before and after the trip has begun. Because the story is told through the eyes of the characters, it is easy to understand the thoughts and actions of each character, such as why Courtney spends most of the trip in rest stop bathrooms, and why Jordan is feigning phone calls. Without this amount of personality, this book wouldn’t have stayed on the road too long.
The great characterization of Two-Way Street is due in great part to the set-up of the book. Each chapter is told by either Courtney or Jordan, and either before, during, or after the road trip. This gives the book a sense of depth and continuity that would be difficult to show in a time setting of only a few days. Barnholdt finds a creative way to completely tell Courtney and Jordan’s story by giving you the past as well as the present. Not only does this set-up get you interested in the book, but it also shows the intertwining technique that the author used as a means of best telling her story. Because most stories are told merely on a beginning-to-end basis, this is a refreshing way of unraveling the events of these teenagers’ lives.
Because this story is based around the lives of two teenagers, this story would be most appreciated by people of generally the same age. Though this novel would normally be interpreted as a more female-oriented story, Jordan’s point of view makes this book a very interesting read for many ages. However, many of the chapters have scenes involving crude or inappropriate language and humor. Many of the jokes and dialogue in this book would not be very appropriate for younger teenagers. That being said, teenagers over the age of fifteen might find this story sort of dull. Though the plot is decently strong and the characters are well-introduced, the main idea of the story is a little immature for older readers.
Overall, I believe Barnholdt did a great job of expressing the story she wanted to tell. Though it may have been a bit too progressed for its main audience, she left it with a good moral. Lauren Barnholdt more than made up for that foible by making use of her outstanding sense of characterization and her way of folding the plot of the story to tailor her vision. By filling this book with her creativity and talent for writing, she made Two-Way Street into something it could have never been otherwise.




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