Book Reviews

Review: This Train is Being Held by Ismée Williams

This Train is Being Held is a roller coaster of emotions. This story ranges from first loves, racial profiling, and mental health awareness. Through it all we are asked if Isabelle and Alex can end up triumphing against a world that seems to want to drive them apart. Are their differences just too great? Find out more in this book review of This Train is Being Held.


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.


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

CW: suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, bipolar disorder, overdose, depression

This Train is Being Held is one of those books I didn’t get to until after release even though it seemed right up my alley. An unlikely romance between a dancer and baseball player from a meet cute on the subway? But This Train is Being Held is a book that tackles tough issues of racism, mental illness, and heartbreak. It encompasses this huge range of emotions and action that leaves you feeling like you just ran to catch a train. While it has these elements of romance, it’s a book that is more emotionally intense especially as the book progresses.

Their two different worlds collide in an explosion of color, privilege and prejudice. Despite their families, their different versions of their future, and their schedules, can they be together? Isa is a white passing biracial Cuban American and Alex is a Dominican American whose baseball uniform changes his appearance in the eyes of society. This central conflict is manifested and explored in a variety of instances from the way strangers treat them together, their family expectations, and their own images of their future.


At the same time, This Train is Being Held is also about family and the future. By the end, I couldn’t stop reading. I had no idea where the book would go at so many different points in the story. This Train is Being Held balances first love, racism, and forgiveness. It features characters who are allowed to be as confused, messy, and flawed as we are. Find This Train is Being Held on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite meet cute moment?

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