Book Reviews

Review: Ariel Crashes a Train by Olivia A. Cole

I’ve been a fan of Olivia A. Cole’s books for a while now. And Ariel Crashes a Train has to be one of my favorites. It’s emotional and a tender story about friendship. Keep reading this book review of Ariel Crashes a Train for my full thoughts.


Ariel is afraid of her own mind. She already feels like she is too big, too queer, too rough to live up to her parents’ exacting expectations, or to fit into what the world expects of a “good girl.” And as violent fantasies she can’t control take over every aspect of her life, she is convinced something much deeper is wrong with her. Ever since her older sister escaped to college, Ariel isn’t sure if her careful rituals and practiced distance will be enough to keep those around her safe anymore.

Then a summer job at a carnival brings new friends into Ariel’s fractured world , and she finds herself questioning her desire to keep everyone out—of her head and her heart. But if they knew what she was really thinking, they would run in the other direction—right? Instead, with help and support, Ariel discovers a future where she can be at home in her mind and body, and for the first time learns there’s a name for what she struggles with—Obsessive Compulsive Disorder—and that she’s not broken, and not alone.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Ariel Crashes a Train is a fabulous story in verse about feeling like our mind is rebelling against us, that we are too much. Full of intrusive thoughts, Ariel has to figure out how to make friends, how much of herself to share, and feeling like a burden. Can she really make new friends if so much of herself is hidden? An inner narrative and pieces of herself buried. Ariel Crashes a Train also explores the layers of performance of being a ‘girl’.

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It’s about navigating desire, family, and activism all at once. Like a swirling maelstrom. What resonated the most with me was Ariel’s feeling of being ‘too big’ in a world which wants us to be smaller. All the opinions and desires people pile on top of us. The weight. Ariel Crashes a Train is about mental health, friendship, and family. It’s a story that I know is going to make a difference to a reader. To readers who are fighting against the mold we are forced to become, to try to want.

Find Ariel Crashes a Train on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, Blackwells, & Libro. fm.


What is your favorite recent novel in verse?

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