Review | Love and Other Train Wrecks by Leah Konen

A twenty-four-hour romance about two teens who meet—and perhaps change their minds about love—on a train ride to Upstate New York in the middle of a snowstorm

One train ride. Two strangers.

Noah is a hopeless romantic. He’s heading back home for one last chance with his first love, whom he broke up with when he went off to college.

Ammy doesn’t believe in true love—her parents being prime examples. She’s escaping from a mom who can’t take care of her to a dad who may not even want her. That is, until one winter night when Noah and Ammy find themselves in the same Amtrak car heading to Upstate New York.

After a train-wreck first encounter between the two of them, the Amtrak train suddenly breaks down due to a snowstorm. Desperate to make it to their destinations, Noah and Ammy have no other option but to travel together. What starts off as a minor detour turns into the whirlwind journey of a lifetime, and over the course of the night they fall in love. But come morning their adventure takes an unexpected turn for the worst. Can one night can really change how they feel about love…and the course of their lives forever?

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2 cupcakes

I picked up Love and Other Train Wrecks on a whim since it sounded like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but on a train. While its premise was similar (spans ~24 hours, stars single strangers who are travelling to the same place sitting next to each other), I didn’t like Love and Other Train Wrecks nearly as much as I had expected.

Love and Other Train Wrecks is, like many other contemporary romance novels, a character-driven story. And this is where my main problem stemmed from: I just didn’t like Ammy and Noah, making it difficult for me to root for their inevitable seatmates-to-soulmates transformation. Ammy came off as pretentious for nearly the entire novel, dismissing everything from The Hunger Games and YA novels (which I guess means she wouldn’t like her own story?) to Jackson Pollack paintings. Her family life is quite difficult, leading her to frequently lash out at others – something that made it difficult for me to sympathize with her. Noah, on the other hand, was such a hopeless romantic that he read as a pushover: he was too eager to please, overly willing to change his opinions and behaviours for others, and apologized for everything whether it was in his control or not.

The shenanigans that ensued after the train broke down required a lot of suspension of disbelief and the constant obstacles quickly lost their entertainment value. I feel like this pacing might have worked better in a film (especially a 90s romcom).

Overall, Love and Other Train Wrecks was unmemorable, predictable, and moved much too slowly to hold my interest. Had I been able to connect with the characters, I might have enjoyed it more.

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