Book Review | Traffic Jam
Title: Traffic Jam
Author: Melissa Groeling
Many books serve the purpose of enjoyment and an escape from the hassles surrounding everyday life. Traffic Jam by Melissa Groeling, however, falls into a different category. Certainly it pulled me away from everyday life and I enjoyed reading it, but it also managed to make me think. A book which manages to massage the brains cells is a welcomed change; especially a book within the Young Adult genre. Val Delton is the book’s heroine. No she does not have special powers or unbelievable physical strength, but she’s still a hero, in a different way. Val’s life is crumbling all around her, her father lost his job, which forced the family into moving out of their nice home into a crammed apartment, her mother’s putting in long hours at the bakery to cover the lost income, and her sister, Sam? Well, their relationship has never been worse. Sam is Val’s more popular older sister, with long blonde her, model height and weight, she manages to stand out in a crowd. Val on the other hand has never cared too much about her appearance, she’s more concerned about schoolwork and she is far from being popular. One day, Val notices some expensive items in her sister’s room, items which she knows that she cannot afford, especially since she doesn’t even have a job. When Val questions Sam about it, Sam aggressively dismisses her, even uses physical contact. Val knows that something is up, but Sam is far from spilling the truth. With a little prying, or shall I say, the problem being exposed to her in a manner in which she never expected, Val is left with two options, hide from the truth or protect her older sister.
Throughout Traffic Jam, the resilience of Val is on display, even if she sometimes goes about it in the wrong way. Val is now mixed up in Sam’s nightmare and there is no turning back. Certainly most teenagers are concerned with what outfit to wear to school, who to take to the school dance, normal teen stuff. What Val and her sister must deal with is far from normal. The subject matter is intense, but it is a reality that too many teen girls and women must face. I will not reveal the secret which her sister is hiding, but just be warned that it is troubling.
I greatly appreciated the depth of the characters and the subject matter of Traffic Jam. Also, the ending was satisfying. Reading the book made me think about my relationship with my family and the all so important matter of communication. It is a message that all readers can relate to. Groeling’s debut Young Adult Novel is a journey worth taking, so even if you are not particularly fond of YA novels, Traffic Jam may be the start of something new.
*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*