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When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most. Heartfelt and evocative, this romantic drama will appeal to readers of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen.


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When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most. Heartfelt and evocative, this romantic drama will appeal to readers of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen.

30 review for This Train Is Being Held

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    3.5 rounded up to a 4. Wow. The romance at the center of this book grabbed me from their first interaction and held me completely captivated through to the end. The plot however was a different story. It was a lot harder to connect to because the book takes place over a pretty long period of time and we only really get glimpses of what is going on every few weeks, so while I 100% believed in Alex and Isa's relationship (it reminded me A LOT of being a teen and having random crushes on people I w 3.5 rounded up to a 4. Wow. The romance at the center of this book grabbed me from their first interaction and held me completely captivated through to the end. The plot however was a different story. It was a lot harder to connect to because the book takes place over a pretty long period of time and we only really get glimpses of what is going on every few weeks, so while I 100% believed in Alex and Isa's relationship (it reminded me A LOT of being a teen and having random crushes on people I would see on the train), the pacing of the story as a whole left a little to be desired. I did still really enjoy this and definitely recommend checking it out, but I would advise going in prioritizing romance over plot. TW: racism, police violence

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    This is stunning, heart-breaking, I cannot hold back my tears! Oh, no! My cries are literally ugly! This is more heart-felting, emotional, tear-jerker book than I expected represents Latino culture and heavy mental illness issues ( suicide, bipolar, depression etc.) at the same time. I’m not a big fan of slow-burn romances and when I read the blurb that Alex and Isabelle’s journey to form a relationship takes 3 years, I got a little worried. But as soon as I started to read, I relieved: this is n This is stunning, heart-breaking, I cannot hold back my tears! Oh, no! My cries are literally ugly! This is more heart-felting, emotional, tear-jerker book than I expected represents Latino culture and heavy mental illness issues ( suicide, bipolar, depression etc.) at the same time. I’m not a big fan of slow-burn romances and when I read the blurb that Alex and Isabelle’s journey to form a relationship takes 3 years, I got a little worried. But as soon as I started to read, I relieved: this is not a book consisted of too many repeating, wordy descriptions and nonsense dialogues. It’s well rounded, -perfectly developed realistic fiction. Two young adults from different classes, cultural backgrounds meet at the train. Slowly they start to learn more about each other. Isabelle, half Cuban privileged girl, deals with her depressed mother who has prejudice against Latino man. Isabelle also deals with her brother Merritt (interestingly at some parts I found him more genuine and more likeable character than heroine), chasing her dream to be a dancer. Our hero Alex Rosario is Dominican American, dealing with his over controlling father who forces him to play sports but Alex wants to go to the college to become a poet. Alex’s story and his family interaction parts were poignant, heartwarming. And Isabelle’s family part was more dramatic because of mother and brother’s mental health issues. Overall I enjoyed the author’s genuine, objective writing and author’s juggling too many issues at the same time and mixing in theme proportionally to create a memorable story. At some parts I found heroine a little dull, ordinary and hard to relate with. But this book is still promising, heart wrenching and impeccably developed page-turner. I wanted to read more works of the author ASAP in near future. Special thanks to NetGalley and ABRAMS Kids/Amulet Books to share this incredible ARC COPY with me in exchange my honest review. blog instagram facebook twitter

  3. 5 out of 5

    Irena BookDustMagic

    I really enjoyed this cute (yet serious and heartbreaking) diverse story. Full review to come.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tucker (TuckerTheReader)

    Many thanks to Amulet for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review ”Falling in love, it is easy. Fighting for it, that is hard.” Gosh, you guys… there was just so much to love about this book!! Even though the romance was probably a 3.5 stars on its own, the book as a whole gets a 4 star rating because of the friendship and, best of all, latinx heritage and culture. So, what’s this book about? When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Many thanks to Amulet for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review ”Falling in love, it is easy. Fighting for it, that is hard.” Gosh, you guys… there was just so much to love about this book!! Even though the romance was probably a 3.5 stars on its own, the book as a whole gets a 4 star rating because of the friendship and, best of all, latinx heritage and culture. So, what’s this book about? When private school student Isabelle Warren first meets Dominican-American Alex Rosario on the downtown 1 train, she remembers his green eyes and his gentlemanly behavior. He remembers her untroubled happiness, something he feels all rich kids must possess. That, and her long dancer legs. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most. Heartfelt and evocative, this romantic drama will appeal to readers of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen. As you could tell by the phrase “over the next three years”, this is not a very insta-lovey novel. That said, it was anything but slow and even though three years sounds like a long, long time, it’s not. Trust me; this book will fly by. So much so that I didn’t even realize it was three years because it was so enjoyable and perfectly paced. And also because I wasn’t paying attention to the dates. ➵ Isa(belle) Warren - Isa is the definition of a privileged white girl. Fortunately, she is pretty aware and grateful of her privilege and is almost never snooty or entitled about it. Isa is a young adult who loves to dance and hang out with her friend, Chrisy. I don’t really have anything else to say about Isa soooo… GIF: ➵ Alex Rosario - I much prefer Alex to Isa. Mainly because: (P.S. don’t google “gay as f*ck gifs” unless you want to be treated to porn. Learned that the hard way.) But I also loved him because he was Latino! I love me some Latino rep because, believe it or not, I am Latino. Half lation. So, I guess I’m biracial. Anyway. I also want to note that Alex’s hand were surprisingly sexy. Don’t believe me? HERE’S A QUOTE TO JUSTIFY MY ARGUMENT: ”I suck in a breath. His skin is warm under the cool gel. Very warm. The deep curve of his hand is slick. It’s so large both my fists could fit inside it. He has calluses at the base of his thumb and below his ring finger. I hover over them, tracing their shape. I slip outside of his hand and his broad knuckles flex, almost involuntarily. I circle up to his wrist, to the pound of his pulse. It matches the thrumming in my ears.” If that’s not foreplay, I don’t know what is. ➵ Merrit - Merrit is Isa’s brother and I was definitely crushing on him. I would totally be into him if he existed in real life. I also appreciated the mental illness rep (more on that in a bit.) I want to briefly focus on the Latino rep. Both Isa (I think) and Alex have latino heritage but it is Alex’s Dominican American family that the novel focuses on. It was super cool to see them speaking occasional Spanish, even though I couldn’t understand it. I don’t speak a lick of Spanish. I also loved the general culture and feel of Alex’s home because it reminded me of the (sometimes awkward) family lunches we have on my dad’s side. Oh, another thing. Alex called his dad “Papi” which is something I actually do but when talking about him to really anyone, I just say my dad because it’s easier than explaining “Papi”. Also, I’m lazy. To end, I want to discuss the mental illness representation which was just as important and meaningful as the Latino rep. Both Merrit and his mother struggle with bipolar disorder and Merrit deals with depression and, towards the end of the book, (view spoiler)[suicide and suicidal ideations (Trigger Warning for that) (hide spoiler)] . I really appreciated this raw, accurate and emotional display of what it is like to deal with mental illness and to know someone who deals with it. Overall, this book was romantic, sure, but it went so much deeper than that. From Latino culture and heritage to bipolar disorder, This Train Is Being Held covers many important topics in a raw, honest, and emotional way that will have every reader switching back and forth from laughter to tears. Bottom Line: 4.5 Stars Age Rating: [ PG-13 ] Content Screening (Spoilers) - Educational Value (4/5) - [Latino culture and heritage, theatre, bipolar disorder and how to deal/cope with it] ~ Positive Messages (4/5) - [Endurance and strength, friendships, being your own person] ~ Violence (3/5) - [In the climax, a character is threatened with a knife and multiple people fall onto train tracks. Many characters are injured but no one dies.] ~ Sex (3/5) - [Kissing, removal of clothing but no on page sex.] ~ Language (1/5) - [Brief and mild language] ~ Drinking/Drugs (4/5) - [Character purposely overdoses on medications] Trigger and Content Warnings - Overdosing on drugs, Suicide Attempt, Suicidal Ideations, Depression, Bipolar disorder, Racism (always in a negative light), Violence, Loss & Harm to a loved one Cover: 4/5 ~ Characters: 4/5 ~ Plot: 4/5 Publication Date: February 11th, 2020 Publisher: Amulet (Abrams) Genre: Romance/Contemporary ------ Super cute and fun but with a perfect amount of heavy and important topics as well. Review to come! ------ latino rep!!! | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    This turned out to be an okay read, but I was hoping for more. There were elements of the story I liked and others I didn't. I think the the biggest problem for me was I wasn't all that interested in Alex although I'm not quite sure why that was the case. He just kinda fell flat and I actually would have preferred if the story would have followed Isa the entire time instead of alternating between her and Alex. I was way more invested in her family life rather than her romantic life. High school This turned out to be an okay read, but I was hoping for more. There were elements of the story I liked and others I didn't. I think the the biggest problem for me was I wasn't all that interested in Alex although I'm not quite sure why that was the case. He just kinda fell flat and I actually would have preferred if the story would have followed Isa the entire time instead of alternating between her and Alex. I was way more invested in her family life rather than her romantic life. High school students Isabelle Warren and Alex Rosario first meet while riding on the subway train. And despite the fact they live in NYC with a population of I don't know how many millions of people, they keep running into one another on the same train. What are the odds? (actually pretty good when you are reading a romance) Isa is half Cuban and has dreams of becoming a dancer. She comes from a wealthy family, but her home life isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Dominican-American Alex isn't living a life of privilege like Isa. His father is controlling and wants Alex to excel in sports, however Alex wants to be a poet. So this is one of those slow burn romances that takes place over the course of a couple years. While I thought both Isa and Alex were likable people, I was pretty indifferent about the romantic aspects of their relationship. For me this worked as a better straight up fiction story rather than a romance. I give the author credit for giving the story some substance instead of just churning out a fluffy teen romance. Both characters had interesting backstories, but I do wish I would have clicked better with Alex. In no way am I saying he was a poorly written character, it's more of a case of as a reader you aren't always going to connect with every character in a book. Had I cared more about him, this probably would have been a much better read for me. I appreciate the author's attempt to explore serious subjects in this young adult romance. If that is the type of thing that interests you and/or you like stories with diverse characters, you might want to check this one out. I won a free copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anna Banana

    4.5 stars Wow...I knew that I was going to love this book but I never expected it to be my first 5 star read of the year and an instant favorite for 2020! When I heard about this book and heard it was about two latinx teenagers falling in love; one who is Dominican and one who is half-Cuban, I knewthat I had to read it. It means so much to me whenever I read a book that has POC characters but learning that Alex was Dominican and reading this book and seeing Ismée Williams get the culture so right 4.5 stars Wow...I knew that I was going to love this book but I never expected it to be my first 5 star read of the year and an instant favorite for 2020! When I heard about this book and heard it was about two latinx teenagers falling in love; one who is Dominican and one who is half-Cuban, I knewthat I had to read it. It means so much to me whenever I read a book that has POC characters but learning that Alex was Dominican and reading this book and seeing Ismée Williams get the culture so right...it brought tears to my eyes so many times while reading. There is so much about this book that was amazing, I think I hugged this book to my chest no less than 5 times while reading it. I just love it so much. For the characters, for the culture, for the message and important topics that are talked about in this book and are done so well. You can tell this author really put her heart and soul into this book and I felt like I was reading a book written just for me. When Alex talked about Dominican culture and about how he gets treated for being darker skinned, that whole conversation about that is so, so important. Because it's real and true. It's horrible that kids are automatically put into a box based on a person's racist and ignorant perceptions of people based on their skin color or the way they look. I also really liked how much of the culture and language was in this book and the conversation on the relationship between Alex and his dad. For Isa, since she is biracial and white-passing people don't think she's Cuban and often treat her like she's a rich white girl. She has privilege in a way that Alex never will. I liked that we got to talk about how just because you are white-passing doesn't mean you are any less Cuban. There's also a lot going on for Isa in her family, what with her mom and brother who are both bipolar and her dad who is struggling at work and Isa doesn't know how much longer she can pretend that everything is fine when it's so clearly not. I feel like I could go on and on about how much I loved this book but I'm going to stop now because I want to go back and hold this book a little longer and reread some of my favorite parts. I cannot recommend this book enough!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Vinny MS Featuring an unexpected subway encounter, Ismée Williams’ newest contemporary, This Train Is Being Held, is going to make you swoon over the slow-burn romance between Isabelle Warren, a girl who does her dance routines in secret due to a strict mother, and Alex Rosario, a boy who plays baseball in pressure in attempt to make his father proud. Heavily centered around Spanish culture and heritage in the current timeline, Isa and Alex’s jou Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Vinny MS Featuring an unexpected subway encounter, Ismée Williams’ newest contemporary, This Train Is Being Held, is going to make you swoon over the slow-burn romance between Isabelle Warren, a girl who does her dance routines in secret due to a strict mother, and Alex Rosario, a boy who plays baseball in pressure in attempt to make his father proud. Heavily centered around Spanish culture and heritage in the current timeline, Isa and Alex’s journey in this book was absolutely eye-opening, not just in regards to their romance, but also to their family, friends, and surroundings. Isabelle Warren is a half-Cuban high-schooler and passionate dancer in secret. She’s your typical privileged girl, though I’d say that she’s more than aware of her privilege and family’s wealth, which makes her character more bearable to follow. With a mother suffering from unstable emotions and a brother who suffered from depression, you soon realise that she doesn’t have it all. Enter Alex Rosario, a Dominican-American high schooler and forced-baseball player. Living with a controlling father who expects his son to be all athletic, the idea of Alex becoming a poet might as well become a death-sentence for him. Isa and Alex’s first encounter may or may not be the most swoon-worthy material in this story. As a matter of subjectivity, I’d personally consider it as realistic, which makes the whole narrative feel way more real and believable. The two didn’t immediately get love-struck with one another, yet the attraction was clearly showing on this first meeting. Aside from the romance, which was slow yet delightful to follow, what piqued my interest the most about this story is the richness of the Latino culture and representation. It accentuated many important and sensitive topics as well from parental pressure for their kids, to heavy mental disorders and racism. Told in an alternate point-of-view, Isa and Alex’s perspective was completely contrast yet beautifully complement each other. With two main leads who come from different backgrounds and social classes, you may want to hold your tongue before judging this book as your typical cheesy YA novel because This Train Is Being Held is far from that. Williams eloquently incorporated this classic trope into something that’s way more heartfelt, meaningful, and raw. As I previously mentioned, I cherished the rich representations included in Williams’ newest book. Although one thing quickly becomes a challenge for me, which is the heavy-use of Spanish in this story. While I enjoyed the incorporation of Spanish in both dialogues and internal monologues of the characters, I was hoping there’d be a guide for non-Spanish speakers such as myself. In conclusion, This Train Is Being Held is an evocative and heartfelt slow-paced realistic fiction. It’s the perfect companion to bring on your next train ride while enjoying the after-work hours.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Book Soul9

    MY THOUGHTS First of all, I want to thank to the publishing house Abrams & Chronicle Books for giving me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review! First of all, I liked the romance between Alex and Isabelle and it was very emotional to read about it. The relationship between these two people is so beautiful and unique. Just reading the author’s description of it, makes me want to cry. Also, I like how the author, Ismee, tells the story in two ways. First of all, we have this cute, slow-burning MY THOUGHTS First of all, I want to thank to the publishing house Abrams & Chronicle Books for giving me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review! First of all, I liked the romance between Alex and Isabelle and it was very emotional to read about it. The relationship between these two people is so beautiful and unique. Just reading the author’s description of it, makes me want to cry. Also, I like how the author, Ismee, tells the story in two ways. First of all, we have this cute, slow-burning romance between these two people. On the other hand, we have two emotional family stories. Even though I enjoyed the cute one, I was really interested in their families and their lives. Isabelle chases her dreams. She wants to be a famous dancer someday and, honestly, she could be anything she wants. Her family is wealthy, but her mother has strict rules. I found very awkward the relationship between Isa and her mother, and it kind of bothered me. There are some situations when I couldn’t undrstand Isa’s mother. It’s like she is from another planet and I couldn’t help but think that she felt lost. Moreover, Alex chases his dreams, too. He wants to be a successful poet, but his father has different plan for him. He wants him to be a sport star. This relationship between Ale and his father is even more annoying than the previous one. I was so angry about the fact how Alex’s father controlled his life. I wouldn’t say that Alex is a flat character, but there is something undefined about him. I do like more Isabelle in all this story and I see Alex as Isa’s lost part. She needed him in her life to complete her as a person. Overall, I quite enjoyed reading this book, and I the author’s attempt to talk about certain issues is clearly seen and it’s a really good thing. I recommend this book to the people who like slow-burning romances.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kate (GirlReading)

    A truly delightful and surprising read. The romance was EVERYTHING. It was tender and warm and raw and everything you could possibly want in a YA romance. It was somehow both an 'instalove' story and a slow burn romance and I loved it so, so much. I was 100% all in and onboard with it from the get go and coming from someone who pretty much never gets on with 'instalove' style romances, that's saying a lot. The plot itself was gently paced and I was hooked from the first page until the last. It was A truly delightful and surprising read. The romance was EVERYTHING. It was tender and warm and raw and everything you could possibly want in a YA romance. It was somehow both an 'instalove' story and a slow burn romance and I loved it so, so much. I was 100% all in and onboard with it from the get go and coming from someone who pretty much never gets on with 'instalove' style romances, that's saying a lot. The plot itself was gently paced and I was hooked from the first page until the last. It was intense and heartbreaking but wonderfully explored parental pressures, mental illness, Latinx culture, prejudice and balancing your professional aspirations with relationships. Ismée Amiel Williams' writing style was comfortable to read whilst packing a major punch. The vulnerability she managed to portray in both Alex and Isabelle was superb. I absolutely loved the narrative surrounding the trains and the inclusion of Isa's passion for ballet and Alex's love for poetry were such brilliant additions to the plot and their characters. I adored the cast of characters and enjoyed both Alex and Isabelle's POV's equally, which I've found to be a rarity in books with dual perspective. Overall, this was a tender yet heart wrenching read and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend. The audiobook narrators were also a 10/10! TW: racism, police brutality

  10. 5 out of 5

    charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)

    On my blog. Rep: half Cuban mc, Dominican American mc, side characters with bipolar disorder CWs: suicidal ideation, suicide attempt (off page, side char), racism Galley provided by publisher Quite frankly, this book bored me to near death. From about a fifth through, I had to almost force myself to read it, I was that tired. I mean, ultimately, it’s not a bad book, I just have very low tolerance for straight YA contemporary and this one definitely fell below that. This Train is Being Held is abo On my blog. Rep: half Cuban mc, Dominican American mc, side characters with bipolar disorder CWs: suicidal ideation, suicide attempt (off page, side char), racism Galley provided by publisher Quite frankly, this book bored me to near death. From about a fifth through, I had to almost force myself to read it, I was that tired. I mean, ultimately, it’s not a bad book, I just have very low tolerance for straight YA contemporary and this one definitely fell below that. This Train is Being Held is about two characters I can’t even remember the names of (Isabelle and Alex, thanks synopsis) who meet, and fall in love, on the metro. Now, that actually did hook me, so I really thought I might like this book. Unfortunately, it’s so fraught with miscommunication (or straight up non-communication) and just general treating people kind of awfully, that I couldn’t stand it. The first time Alex and Isabelle meet, Alex defends her from some creep leering at her in her dancewear. To which Isabelle comments it’s probably her fault because of what she’s wearing. And to which my immediate reaction was, it’s some choice to have your female character express internalised misogyny so the male character can correct/comfort her and thus establish himself as a Good Feminist Guy. And by “some choice” I mean it’s not a choice I appreciate. But, I thought, maybe it will improve. More fool me. Next, the second time Alex and Isabelle meet, Isabelle’s friend has just dared her to go up to a stranger on the train and kiss them. Luckily (of a sort), Alex is on the train, so Isabelle goes up to him. Having spoken with him a grand total of one (1) time. Which borders sexual harrassment, surely? Crude example, but swap the genders around, have Alex go up to Isabelle and it’s suddenly more obviously unacceptable (ask me about the reverse sexual double standard, I covered that in my research project…). And so now I’m supposed to actually root for Isabelle, somehow. Okay, so she does apologise later on, but – could just be me – an apology after the fact does not nearly make up for doing it. And then we skim along a bit while they’re actually together, and then, woe of woes, they break up due to miscommunication. Which would be fine in itself only Alex then has to go be an absolute dickhead, kiss another girl immediately (and start dating her), despite knowing that he is still in love with Isabelle, and that Kiara, this other girl, is distinctly in love with him. So it just ends up him treating her like crap. And here I am, unable to like either Alex or Isabelle. (Also, of note, he never really apologises to Kiara for this.) But I am not done yet! Then there’s the ending which is, quite frankly, chaos. Throughout the book there’s hints at something more coming, from references to Danny joining a gang and the racism that Alex faces. And that comes to a head at the end. Only, it feels too late on to give it the weight both topics really deserve. They’re attacked by members of another gang, Alex is a victim of police brutality, but it’s all almost shrugged off at the end. Danny gets out, Alex mentions going to therapy. Okay we’re done. Combined with the fact that this book is already trying to deal with the topic of mental illness, just leaves these two other topics – both of which deserve to be dealt with way more thoroughly than it felt they were – sort of like afterthoughts in the narrative. The police brutality in particular. One final point. I’m not sure what the rep in this is like (particularly the Dominican rep and the bipolar rep). I don’t know enough myself and I haven’t found any reviews yet, but you know when you get a slight feeling about it? Well yeah. In the end, then, not only was I disappointed, but apparently I was also annoyed enough to write this long a review. Oops.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    A modern romance inspired by West Side Story, This Train is Being Held is full of beauty and heartache, touching on young love, mental health, and racism. Isabelle and Alex meet on a subway train in NYC, and so begins the saga of their love story against all odds, often featuring the subway. Isa is a white-passing Cuban-American ballet dancer who attends a private school and dreams of being a professional dancer while her mother pushes her toward medicine. Her family life is complicated with bot A modern romance inspired by West Side Story, This Train is Being Held is full of beauty and heartache, touching on young love, mental health, and racism. Isabelle and Alex meet on a subway train in NYC, and so begins the saga of their love story against all odds, often featuring the subway. Isa is a white-passing Cuban-American ballet dancer who attends a private school and dreams of being a professional dancer while her mother pushes her toward medicine. Her family life is complicated with both her mom and older brother being diagnosed as bipolar, and a mom who has racist tendencies toward anyone with darker skin. Alex is a Dominican boy and talented baseball player, pushed by his over-zealous father to focus all his attention on the sport. He is very aware of his brown skin and regularly experiences micro-aggressions and has had negative experiences with the police. One of his friends is slipping into gang activity and he doesn't know how to help. Isa and Alex fall hard and fast for each, but their lives are complicated and both of them are hiding significant struggles from each other. They have a very sweet relationship, with Alex hiding poetry under train seats for Isa to find, but I was very frustrated with their lack of communication. The author is definitely self-aware about this and there is an arc of growth late in the book, but and a former oversharer, I had a difficult time relating. I can't imagine falling in love and not sharing such critical information as Isa and Alex hide. That said, there is a lot to love here. We get a rich and nuanced portrayal of mental health, racism, and Latinx culture. The author is Cuban-American and there is a great deal of Spanish woven into the text. Non-speakers might be frustrated with the lack of translation, but I thought it was beautiful and well-done. I didn't go in expecting this to hit on such serious issues. While it is a romance, it also has elements of a hard-hitting contemporary, so do check content/trigger warnings if you need them. Ultimately, I really enjoyed this book and thought the author did a great job of weaving so much in. I would check it out! I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own. CW include racist language and microagressions, police violence, attempted suicide, depictions of bipolar, borderline emotional child abuse

  12. 5 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    While rushing to ballet audition, a kind stranger, Alex, held the train door for Isa. Over the next few months, they continued to cross paths on this train line, which led to friendship and more. • Pro: The premise was fantastic! In a city of more than 8.6 million, these two kept bumping into each other. The universe was definitely trying to tell them something! I found it all terribly romantic, and also, so New York. • Pro: The romance developed over quite a long period of time. There were gaps While rushing to ballet audition, a kind stranger, Alex, held the train door for Isa. Over the next few months, they continued to cross paths on this train line, which led to friendship and more. • Pro: The premise was fantastic! In a city of more than 8.6 million, these two kept bumping into each other. The universe was definitely trying to tell them something! I found it all terribly romantic, and also, so New York. • Pro: The romance developed over quite a long period of time. There were gaps between each train encounter, and I liked having that time to get to know Alex and Isa separately before getting to know them as a couple. • Pro/Con: My heart went out to Isa. She was dealing with a LOT of upheaval in her life, but I HATED the way she dealt with it, and I also HATED the way it affected Alex. Those were a few dark chapters for me, but... • Pro: I adored Alex. He made a few choices I was not super happy about, however I was such a fan of him as friend, a big brother, and a son. He was often quite sweet, and there were many times I swooned as he interacted with Isa. I loved that he was a jock and a poet, and I was really proud of some of the big decisions he made during this story. • Pro: I WAS a fan of this romance. Despite Alex and Isa being from "two different New Yorks", they were beautiful together. • Pro: Because I spent such a long period of time with this couple, their family, and their friends, I really grew to care about them all. The stupendous ending Williams wrote set my mind at ease about their futures, and I was happy she wrapped up so many of the characters' storylines. Overall: An emotional and heartfelt train ride, which I really enjoyed. *ARC provided in exchange for an honest review. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  13. 5 out of 5

    Claude's Bookzone

    3.5 Stars CW: (view spoiler)[Overdose (likely intentional), mental health (depression, bipolar), racism and racial profiling, gangs (hide spoiler)] Another pleasant surprise with a wonderfully diverse cast. This is definitely a romance but not a cute and fluffy one. It’s about two people from different worlds who meet on a train and feel drawn to each other. As the relationship progresses they see that there can be wonderful moments and challenging ones for people from both sides of the ‘tracks’. 3.5 Stars CW: (view spoiler)[Overdose (likely intentional), mental health (depression, bipolar), racism and racial profiling, gangs (hide spoiler)] Another pleasant surprise with a wonderfully diverse cast. This is definitely a romance but not a cute and fluffy one. It’s about two people from different worlds who meet on a train and feel drawn to each other. As the relationship progresses they see that there can be wonderful moments and challenging ones for people from both sides of the ‘tracks’. The heavier themes were dealt with in a way that didn’t detract from the fact that this is primarily a love story, but neither was it a flippant look at issues such as parental expectations, racism, and stereotyping. They were blended together and struck a harmonious balance. There were a few tense moments in the story that had me internally begging the author to make things go the way I saw them in my head. I was unaware how invested I was in the relationship between Isa and Alex until I welled up at a particular point. No actual crying, however welling up in a book is huge for me on the emotional scale. An enjoyable book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stacey-Lea

    While it did take me a little time to get into this story, as the pacing is very spaced out spanning across three years with only snippets of time told, by the end I absolutely adored it. Alex and Isa reminded me of what it was like to be a teen falling for someone for a single train ride, but take that further in asking what you would do if you kept seeing that person? If you felt enigmatically drawn to them each time? A very grounded contempoary with a few trigger warnings of suicide, depressi While it did take me a little time to get into this story, as the pacing is very spaced out spanning across three years with only snippets of time told, by the end I absolutely adored it. Alex and Isa reminded me of what it was like to be a teen falling for someone for a single train ride, but take that further in asking what you would do if you kept seeing that person? If you felt enigmatically drawn to them each time? A very grounded contempoary with a few trigger warnings of suicide, depression, bipolar rep, and police brutality.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Merb

    In this young adult contemporary, we follow teenagers Alex and Isa. Alex wants to be a poet, but his father wants him to be a pro baseball player. Isa wants to be a pro ballet dancer, but her mother wants her to do something less feminine. The two meet on a train and instantly feel an attraction. We follow their romance and lives over the next three years as things fall apart, but also fall into place. This was an ordinary, run of the mill romance. Alex and Isa had a surprisingly realistic relat In this young adult contemporary, we follow teenagers Alex and Isa. Alex wants to be a poet, but his father wants him to be a pro baseball player. Isa wants to be a pro ballet dancer, but her mother wants her to do something less feminine. The two meet on a train and instantly feel an attraction. We follow their romance and lives over the next three years as things fall apart, but also fall into place. This was an ordinary, run of the mill romance. Alex and Isa had a surprisingly realistic relationship, however the story relied heavily on the two keeping aspects of their lives a secret, which is never really very realistic. I was rooting for them to get together and then stay together, but apart from that the rest of the story was pretty average. Due to this story being snapshots over three years, it was hard to get invested or form an attachment to things as they passed by so quickly, and there was often no pay off. The ending also did not tie up some things that were important at the start but seemed to have been forgotten about towards the end. This book tackles racism towards Latino young men and the negative stigma attached to them, as well as mental health and the negative ramification it can have upon relationships. So if you enjoy exploring such topics this book dives a little into that. Overall I am happy I read This Train is Being Held and would pick up more from this author.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jayasoorya K E

    3.75. . I loved Isa & Alex and their passion. The ending felt little dramatic to make everything fall into a nice place. 3.75. . I loved Isa & Alex and their passion. The ending felt little dramatic to make everything fall into a nice place.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    TW: drug overdose, suicide attempt/ideas, depression, bipolar, racism, violence I had really hoped for more from this story, but it didn't end up being there for me and I haven't been able to pin down why yet. Isabelle, Isa, meets Alex on the train one day. He captures her attention and she captures his. As they continue to run into each other on the subway, they get to know each other a little more. I really enjoyed moments of this book. Isa and Alex had a number of cute moments together. Plus, TW: drug overdose, suicide attempt/ideas, depression, bipolar, racism, violence I had really hoped for more from this story, but it didn't end up being there for me and I haven't been able to pin down why yet. Isabelle, Isa, meets Alex on the train one day. He captures her attention and she captures his. As they continue to run into each other on the subway, they get to know each other a little more. I really enjoyed moments of this book. Isa and Alex had a number of cute moments together. Plus, the idea of fate continually bringing them together was a fun different break from the types of romances I have read lately. The main struggle I had with this is that I feel like a lot of the drama in their romance all bounced around a lack of communication. Now, on one had I get it. There was a lot going on that is hard to share, but still. Also, this was told from Isa and Alex's POV and that didn't really work for me here. But, I did love seeing mental illness representation. This book hit harder than I was expecting, but I do feel like the mental illness was down really well. It showed the struggles and that just because you are well at some point doesn't mean you always will be. It was hard, but I loved seeing that in there and really hope it sheds some light on that topic more.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aly

    Wow, what a great read! I really enjoyed the concept of the story, following Isa and Alex as they encounter each other multiple times on the subway and form a relationship over the course of two years. The characters were well written and the pacing was great. Isa frustrated me a bit because she didn't know how to let anyone in and kept things from Alex and her family. It's hard to watch someone make choices that hurt themselves and others, I just wanted to jump in and help her. Alex is a great Wow, what a great read! I really enjoyed the concept of the story, following Isa and Alex as they encounter each other multiple times on the subway and form a relationship over the course of two years. The characters were well written and the pacing was great. Isa frustrated me a bit because she didn't know how to let anyone in and kept things from Alex and her family. It's hard to watch someone make choices that hurt themselves and others, I just wanted to jump in and help her. Alex is a great guy and I love that he helped anyone who needed it. His relationship with his little brother Robi was adorable. This has so much emotion and I loved the Latinx representation! The friendships were great and I loved seeing people support others. The poetry was sweet and heartwarming and I'm excited for this to come out so everybody can check it out! Thanks to NetGalley and Amulet Books for this ARC!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vee_Bookish // stan shea couleé

    This sounds like the book I was expecting from Night Owls omg NEED

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eeva

    Yawn. This book had such a cool premise, but it was insanely boring. Even the climax scene was like meh. After that everything felt rushed.

  21. 4 out of 5

    rachael ♡

    This cover and this synopsis are both so good !!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    michelle (magical reads)

    3.5 stars read on my blog tw: suicide ideation, suicide attempt **I received an ARC from Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.** Sometimes we keep secrets from the people we care about. Because we’re trying to protect them. Or protect ourselves. I requested This Train Is Being Held because the cover and summary seemed cute. However, I soon realized that this was a much deeper story than I was expecting. This Train Is Being Held is a romance, yes 3.5 stars read on my blog tw: suicide ideation, suicide attempt **I received an ARC from Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.** Sometimes we keep secrets from the people we care about. Because we’re trying to protect them. Or protect ourselves. I requested This Train Is Being Held because the cover and summary seemed cute. However, I soon realized that this was a much deeper story than I was expecting. This Train Is Being Held is a romance, yes, but it also discusses ethnicity and how we’re perceived because of it. I really liked both of our protagonists’ narratives. Isa is a dancer, dealing with her father losing his job and her mother and brother who both have bipolar disorder. (I couldn’t tell you the quality of the rep for this, so I would love to share someone else’s review.) Her mother wants her to be a doctor, but she wants to dance. Alex is a baseball player, whose dad went pro for a season and a half and now rests everything on Alex’s future. Meanwhile, he wants to go to college and write poetry, not be drafted right out of high school. A large part of this book is that they don’t belong together because they’re from two different worlds: Isa from the Upper East Side and Alex from the Bronx. However, they do share a common cultural heritage: they’re both Latinx. But Isa is blonde and white-passing, so people don’t expect her to speak Spanish or have a Cuban mother. Alex is Dominican-American and people treat him differently because he looks it. “People don’t see color when you’re wearing this. And you, you’re better than I was.” He tugs the brim over my eyes. “This will be yours one day.” It was interesting to read about how Alex is treated better when he’s in a baseball uniform, as if that means he’s worth something more because he has a talent. Yet people still look at him and Isa together and decide that they don’t belong. Anyways, they meet on the train over the course of two years, which led to a different pacing than I was expecting. I usually like books centered around events, but sometimes this one dragged. I think narratively, it could have been shorter; however, this made the character development very real to me. People change, but only after time passes. I thought Isa and Alex’s relationship was really cute! I also loved both of their friendships. Everything felt very established and realistic, as if I were reading about actual people’s lives. I love my family. I love the island they came from. I don’t love that I tense up every time a cop passes. I don’t love that strangers look at me like I’m someone who’s going to hurt them instead of help. Do I wish I were different? Yeah, sometimes I do. And I hate myself for it. But that wasn’t why I was with Isa. It’s maybe why I’m not with her, though. Overall, This Train Is Being Held was a very real read, one that talks about race and how it affects how others see us. The characters were incredibly developed; the romance was cute. The pacing was just not for me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cristina (Girl in the Pages)

    One of my goals for 2020 is to read more novels with Latinx characters by Latinx authors, and I was thrilled to find that This Train Is Being Held featured not one but two Latinx protagonists, I was thrilled! The story follows Isa, a white passing, half Cuban ballerina, who meets Alex, a Dominican-American aspiring pro-baseball player, on New York public transit. Existing in different classes, social circles, and areas of New York, they keep running into each other on various trains until they r One of my goals for 2020 is to read more novels with Latinx characters by Latinx authors, and I was thrilled to find that This Train Is Being Held featured not one but two Latinx protagonists, I was thrilled! The story follows Isa, a white passing, half Cuban ballerina, who meets Alex, a Dominican-American aspiring pro-baseball player, on New York public transit. Existing in different classes, social circles, and areas of New York, they keep running into each other on various trains until they realize there is definitely a spark between them that they both can't deny. While this is definitely a YA Romance novel, I found there to be so much more going on in this story that helped develop Alex and Isa's world into a fully immersive reading experience. Both of their families play a major role in their lives and in the story, from Alex's divorced parents (his Dad is an ex-MLB player who is pushing him to follow in his footsteps and his mother and stepmom whom he has great relationships with) to Isa's seemingly privileged and inaccessible family (that's fraught behind the scenes with mental illness). Both of their families (and even friends) have prejudices and preconceptions about why their relationship should never work, especially Isa's mother who despite being Cuban, has a deep distrust of Latino men due to her own issues with her father. Yet the story doesn't turn into a "let's be together despite what our families think" situation. Though both having flawed families, Isa and Alex both care deeply for their parents and siblings and often choose to prioritize them first, though it caused problems between them, which was heart-wrenching yet realistic at the same time. This story also really dove into the topic of mental illness in an honest and raw way. Isa's mother is bipolar and so is her older brother Merritt. One of the first times we meet Isa, she's tiptoeing around her mother, hoping she can leave for dance class without her mother having an episode. Throughout the course of the novel we see Isa having to be the rock of her family when things start falling apart, and though at times she can seem emotionless and detached, it's clear that her behavior is a coping mechanism because she's so often not able to react on her emotions due to always watching out for her mother and brother. Yet at the same time, Isa is terrified of exhibiting any signs or symptoms of bipolar disorder herself, as it's a constant looming threat hanging over her since she's seen several close family members suffer from it. While This Train Is Being Held isn't a mental health focused book exactly, it did an honest job showcasing that mental illness can run in any family and the toll it takes on those dealing with it, and that money or privilege doesn't make you immune to its affects. As mentioned previously, both Isa and Alex come from different Latinx cultural backgrounds. Alex's family is still very much involved in their Dominican culture, speaking primarily Spanish and still keeping their culture alive through food, family gatherings etc (and what mouth-watering food it is! There are some wonderful food descriptions in this story!) Isa, meanwhile, has a much different relationship with her Latinx heritage, and while she speaks Spanish, she's white passing and doesn't have many of the same struggles or fear of authority that plague Alex, and her family is less open in their celebration of their culture (probably partially because her Dad isn't Latinx, and also because her mother seems to have assimilated pretty thoroughly into American culture and doesn't speak Spanish or reference her Cuban background much). Both families have preconceived notions about the other (positive and negative) and it was refreshing to see multiple Latinx cultures explored in one novel. Alex and Isa's story takes place across the span of quite a bit of time (if I remember correctly, at least 1-2 years) and sometimes there were big time jumps between scenes. I didn't find this jarring, however and found that it fit with the overall theme of them meeting by happenstance at different points of their lives on the train. At the end of the story the tension definitely increased as many of the elements that had been simmering in the background came to a peak in an action scene that was honestly a little more intense than I was expecting (though I couldn't put the book down!). Overall: This Train is Being Held is an honest exploration of growing up Latinx in today's American society and highlights both the differences and similarities of the experiences of the characters. While at times some of the decisions the characters made could be a little frustrating, it was realistic given their personal and family situations and it was fascinating to see how fate kept bringing them together on the train. It's a story of coming of age, finding yourself, rejecting and embracing familial expectations and most of all finding your person in perhaps the unlikeliest of places. Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads This review was originally posted on Girl in the Pages

  24. 5 out of 5

    Allison (SPELLBOUND READER)

    ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars * Thank you NetGally and Amulet Books for giving me a free copy for an honest review. Release date - February 11th 2020 * I think it’s time for me to officially break up with “hard hitting” YA Contemporaries. My patience has dwindled to nothing, and find myself frustrated more often than not. * I love the concept of this book - two teens from different worlds meeting on a train that is heading in opposite directions, somehow finding love with each other. It sounds like the fluffy love sto ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars * Thank you NetGally and Amulet Books for giving me a free copy for an honest review. Release date - February 11th 2020 * I think it’s time for me to officially break up with “hard hitting” YA Contemporaries. My patience has dwindled to nothing, and find myself frustrated more often than not. * I love the concept of this book - two teens from different worlds meeting on a train that is heading in opposite directions, somehow finding love with each other. It sounds like the fluffy love story we all need in our lives. Unfortunately, this book bit off more than it could chew. * How can a book less than 350 pages accurately depict important subjects like depression, gang violence, interracial relationships, suicidal behavior and dysfunctional families - just to name a few. These (and more) are all important topics that deserve a well rounded exploration, and not just a passing glance. I appreciate what the author was trying to do, but it needed to be handled with more grace. (Also, the romance annoyed me... a lot😑) * If YA contemporaries are you jam, please pick this one up. You might get more out of it than I could. Do look into the TW if you are sensitive to certain topics. *

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sacha

    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC! I'll post my review in early February prior to publication. Updated 2/11/20: I enjoyed many aspects of this novel and will absolutely recommend it as a great option for my YA Literature students who are interested in reading contemporary romance. My overarching thoughts on this work are here: Though I do think the train scenes could be economized a bit, the narrative flows smoothly overall. Alex is a much more intriguing character because his in Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC! I'll post my review in early February prior to publication. Updated 2/11/20: I enjoyed many aspects of this novel and will absolutely recommend it as a great option for my YA Literature students who are interested in reading contemporary romance. My overarching thoughts on this work are here: Though I do think the train scenes could be economized a bit, the narrative flows smoothly overall. Alex is a much more intriguing character because his inner turmoil, experiences with racism in daily life, and complex relationship with his father are explored in more depth than any aspect of Isa. There are some confounding moments where Isa is concerned. She is a risk-taker, as seen in some of her exhibitionist public performances and her ease at falling in love on the subway, but she cannot manage to talk about ANY of the struggles plaguing her in relation to her immediate family. I wish this latter issue had been more fully developed at the end of the novel. Her guilt and shame over her brother's mental health and resulting struggles need further attention as well. Somewhere along the way, an adult needs to tell her - and a narrator needs to share with readers - that Isa is not responsible for Merritt and that this translates to all people in similar circumstances. I appreciate the notes on mental health in the Acknowledgements, but there is a missed opportunity for someone - even Isa herself - to realize the scope of what she takes on and that this is not appropriate. Despite minor issues with Isa's character development and a wish to see Merritt's struggles handled a bit more explicitly, this is an engaging teen romance that I think will please the vast majority of its readers.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Artah Yamin

    4.5 stars. This is a book where you can’t just stop at one page. You desperately want to get your hands on the next pages until you end up staying up very late at night. My heart pounded and stomach clenched during so many parts, but that’s only because of how hooked I was in the story. Definitely a fun ride of a book!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sana

    This sounds absolutely heartbreaking re: I wanna read it

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    So this was supposed to be a quick read for me, but lately, I've been in a funk and haven't been able to finish reading anything. It took me a while to get through this book, but here's the upside. This was the first book in weeks that I actually wanted to keep reading because I was enjoying the story line. About I found myself really liking both Isabelle and Alex. They were two characters who were easy to root for and who strive for what they wanted, even when obstacles kept getting int their way So this was supposed to be a quick read for me, but lately, I've been in a funk and haven't been able to finish reading anything. It took me a while to get through this book, but here's the upside. This was the first book in weeks that I actually wanted to keep reading because I was enjoying the story line. About I found myself really liking both Isabelle and Alex. They were two characters who were easy to root for and who strive for what they wanted, even when obstacles kept getting int their way. Isabelle has always wanted to be a dancer, even if that's not something her mom ever wanted for her. And Alex, who's life revolves around baseball, starts to discover a new passion. They were to relatable characters who other teens can see themselves in. I really liked the focus on the social issues at hand. Alex plays ball not just because he's good at it or because it's something his father has pushed him towards since a young age, but also because as Dominican American, he suffers from prejudice and wants to be more than the color of his skin and how people view him. He lives his life in fear, a fear that comes to pass later on in the book, a very real thing that towards the end, he's learning to cope with while also realizing that he wants to do more than just play baseball. Then there's Isabelle. When Alex and her relationship started, she held back from sharing many details about her life. I did find this a little annoying in the beginning. She made several mistakes, but towards the end, really learned how to let Alex in. But it wasn't just that, but her brother's mental illness. I understand that this wasn't her brother's book, but revolves around Alex and Isabelle's lives, but I would have liked a little more awareness about her brother's illness for readers who may be going through what her brother did. I really liked the concept of how the book was written. Isabelle and Alex met by chance in the subway and their story continues to unfold as they get to know each other and develop a friendship and relationship through these chance encounters. So the chapters are dated between days and weeks ad although we don't see everything that goes on in between the dated entries, we still know enough about what goes on in their lives without being left out.  Overall, I really liked this book. I liked how well rounded the characters were and how the ending wrapped around everyone in a way where we see the characters lives starting. It was a fun and enjoyable book about mistakes, lessons, and learning to live the life that you want to live.

  29. 4 out of 5

    hannah ⭐️

    when i first picked up this book, i was reasonably impressed; almost impeccable grammar and writing style and two reasonably-well developed, likeable characters are hard to come by in contemporary ya fiction. however, as the story unfolded, i became more and more disappointed. let me point out some good elements: i thought the way that latinx culture was incorporated, including the use of spanish language woven through the text, was really awesome. there were a couple of moments between isa and when i first picked up this book, i was reasonably impressed; almost impeccable grammar and writing style and two reasonably-well developed, likeable characters are hard to come by in contemporary ya fiction. however, as the story unfolded, i became more and more disappointed. let me point out some good elements: i thought the way that latinx culture was incorporated, including the use of spanish language woven through the text, was really awesome. there were a couple of moments between isa and alex which were developed really nicely. and, obviously, who doesn’t need a tall, kind, baseball-playing, poetry-writing boy in their life? however, all of these were overtaken by: a) the lack of any sort of emotional buildup in the relationship. i’m all for ‘instant connections’ and ‘love at first sight’ but honestly this was a bit much. b) a MESSY ‘climax’ which confused the heck out of me. i won’t spoil anything here, but i think there’s a problem when the big dramatic scene is pretty much the worst one in the novel. c) it kind of devolves from there onwards? it felt drawn out, and awkward, and honestly just WEIRD. in conclusion, i did not vibe with this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elyse (ElyseReadsandSpeaks)

    This story had a lot of things going on - interracial relationship, racism, gang violence, mental health, stereotypes of white vs. brown (ballet vs. baseball). It was alright. It was a cute romance story with some interwoven deeper themes and it at least held my attention. I'm curious to hear what a bilingual speaker thinks of the constant mashup of English and Spanish in a single sentence. Is it typical for bilingual speakers to speak like this? I have no clue. I understood 90% of the Spanish si This story had a lot of things going on - interracial relationship, racism, gang violence, mental health, stereotypes of white vs. brown (ballet vs. baseball). It was alright. It was a cute romance story with some interwoven deeper themes and it at least held my attention. I'm curious to hear what a bilingual speaker thinks of the constant mashup of English and Spanish in a single sentence. Is it typical for bilingual speakers to speak like this? I have no clue. I understood 90% of the Spanish since I have a basic grasp of the language, but some words or phrases were lost on me. I'm also curious to hear what people think that have no knowledge of Spanish whatsoever. I can't imagine this being an enjoyable story for people with no understanding of Spanish since it was used so frequently. I'm not saying it's good or bad - I'm just curious to hear different takes. It was jarring for me at times since I'm only fluent in English and I felt like I was constantly translating things in my head. I'm always curious to see how mental health is portrayed in YA and I'm on the fence on this one. On one hand, I think Merritt was an accurate depiction of bipolar disorder - can be lively and charming, then quickly change to devoid of feeling and self-centered. The character I didn't quite get was Isa's mom. The book blurb notes that she's a Latina with a "volatile temper," but then we quickly learn by reading the first few chapters in the book that she is bipolar. That's kind of a huge difference. Also, we didn't really see anything about mom's bipolar disorder - we just saw her being strict and judgmental about dance and "moreno" boys. Just confused as to what the overall point of that character was. As for Isa and Alex, they were fine. Nothing to make me swoon (but that may be because I'm not into poetry so I wouldn't swoon like Isa did). It was fine for a one time read, but I think this one will stay in the contemporary vault for me.

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