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.
Another book I read for NoVaTeen, this one was a good one. I immediately liked it. The concept of a love story that started on the train was so meet cute and I loved it. But it fell prey to the secret-keeping trope which is one that I hate. I hate characters keeping secrets when telling the truth would literally solve all the conflict that arises.
Despite this, I really enjoyed the characters. Alex was interesting and complicated. He’s a baseball player that’s Dominican and pushed hard by his dad to aim to become a pro ballplayer. Alex, however, has a newly discovered love for writing poetry and is considering going to college before trying to get drafted for baseball. I liked Alex a lot. He clearly loved his mom. It wasn’t clear How he felt about his stepmom but he totally adores his younger brother and spends time with him training him to get better at baseball. With all of this Alex doesn’t want a relationship, but he can’t help his attraction to Isa. I thought their relationship formed naturally and I loved all the meetings on the train.
Isa was a little annoying. She’s the one keeping secrets. She’s embarrassed by her family. Her mom and brother both have mental health issues. Instead of confiding in Alex about this, she keeps it a secret and it causes several problems. I liked her passion for dance despite her mother wanting her to become a doctor. She seems to see the world through rose-colored glasses because though she is Cuban, she looks white, so she hasn’t dealt with the same things that Alex has and doesn’t understand his reactions to certain things (like the police.)
This book covers some heavy topics like racism, gangs, police brutality, in a way that really made me feel for the characters. There’s also a bit of inequality between Isa and Alex. Isa lives on Park Ave and goes to private school and Alex does not. This causes conflict too, but this was a more realistic conflict (I hate secrets that cause conflict. It just pisses me off.)
Overall, I thought this book was good. I enjoyed it and the characters. Thought the chapters are marked with the changing days and dates, so sometimes there was a week or more in between some chapters and that was a bit jarring at first. I definitely think this will be a well-loved book, but the secret-keeping really lowered my enjoyment.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.