Love and Other Train Wrecks

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Love and Other Train Wrecks Book Poster Image
Road trip romance is engaging, sometimes predictable.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Romance meant to entertain.

Positive Messages

If you care about someone, you forgive that person. Other people's feelings matter; you can't put your own happiness ahead of hurting someone else. Gender roles and equality are frequent themes, like when Ammy wonders if it's sexist of Noah to offer to pull her suitcase, or when she points out that Noah is being patronizing.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ammy is deeply cynical about love after her parents' marriage failed. She struggles with anger and jealousy toward her father and his new family, has a hard time understanding her conflicting feelings. She's a bit of a smart aleck and hard to get to know. But she starts to learn empathy, to see things from others' points of view, which helps her be open to possibilities. Noah's obsessed with getting his high school girlfriend back, even though he's the one who broke up with her. He beings to realize that it's time he stopped following what others tell him to do and to start forging his own path. He's careful and considerate, and always says just the right thing. Ammy's mom suffers from anxiety, dwells on the past, and drinks too much, which makes her relationship with Ammy fraught with drama. 

Violence
Sex

Two important incidents imply that teens had sex, but they're later mentioned as kissing and "doing more" without specifics. Older teens kiss for hours lying on a bed, with brief descriptions of emotions and physical sensations. There's a "flirty smack" on the behind. A past "hookup" on the rebound is a prominent theme, also later mentioned as kissing and making out only. Noah says having a penis doesn't mean you don't feel cold. Offhand mention in passing that one of Ammy's best female friends dates and falls in love with a girl.

Language

Occasional. "Bulls--t," "damn," "bitch," "crap," "s--t," "a--holes," "hell," "f--k," "ass" (body part), "butt," and "bitchy."

Consumerism

Lots of food, drink, tech, car, apps, and social media products; chain stores mentioned by name; and pop culture and literary references usually to establish character or location. A couple of brief mentions of Ativan.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Bar carts on an Amtrak train, beer in the cafe car, and a mom who drinks too much wine. Past mention of having three beers at a party and that it was too much for Noah; an adult had one too many beers; a girls' night with wine. A minor character described drinking Bud Light. A couple of mentions that Ammy's mom takes Ativan.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Love and Other Train Wrecks is a road trip romance between 17-year-old Ammy and college freshman Noah, and it's a fine choice for teen romance fans. Sexual content is mild, with no graphic or extended descriptions, but kissing for hours is mentioned and a "hookup" is an important part of Noah's past. Profanity is rare but includes "f--k," "s--t," and variations of each. Overall messages and role models are positive, especially about family loyalty, sacrificing your own happiness to avoid hurting others, and having the courage to stop dwelling on the past.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byAlexa200 February 23, 2018

HILARIOUS

This book is engaging and extremely funny and a good read
Teen, 13 years old Written byAlexa200 February 23, 2018

What's the story?

In LOVE AND OTHER TRAIN WRECKS, Ammy (17) and Noah (18) meet on an Amtrak train during winter break. Noah is desperate to get home to surprise his ex-girlfriend, and hopefully win her back. Ammy's also desperate to get to her father's wedding on time, and she's especially excited to spend more time with her soon-to-be stepsister, Kat. The train suddenly stops in the middle of nowhere, and officials predict it'll take several hours to get the train moving again. Noah convinces Ammy they can catch a bus that'll beat the train, and all they have to do is get off and hike a mile through the woods. One wrong turn leads to another, of course. As their adventure continues over the course of 24 hours, they start to fall for each other. They resist as long as they can, but just when they can't help falling truly and deeply in love, Ammy learns a devastating truth that means she can never see Noah again.

Is it any good?

Author Leah Konen gives romance fans a fun and engaging story, if not a very original one, that'll charm fans even as they easily predict what happens next. Love and Other Train Wrecks manages to feel just fresh enough, thanks to the quirky, well-developed Ammy and Noah. Switching back and forth between their points of view helps us get to know them better, keeps the story moving, and even provides a few laughs as we see how they say or don't say what they mean, and (mis)interpret each other's words and actions.

Konen's got most of the boxes checked that romance fans are looking for. Meet cute? Check. Tormented by the past? Check. Crazy family? Check. Unaware of how attractive they are? Check. Readers who aren't romance fans, or who aren't willing to just go along for the ride, may find so many clichés exasperating. But teens who love romance and adventure will enjoy Ammy and Noah's story right through to the end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the romance in Love and Other Train Wrecks. Is it realistic? Why, or why not?

  • What are some of your favorite romances? How does this one compare?

  • Ammy points out when Noah patronizes her for her athletic ability. What does that mean? Have you ever been patronized by someone? What did you do?

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