Black Opal Books (2012)
Reviewed by Arianna Violante for Reader Views (02/16)
“Traffic Jam” by Melissa Groeling is the story of a teenager named Val, who has to make a very difficult decision when she uncovers her sister’s secret. Val’s family is going through a tough time. Her dad lost his job and her mom is putting in double time to try to make ends meet. They have to downsize to an apartment, and things are tight in money and space. This makes the interactions of the family of five edgy to say the least, especially between the two teen girls, Val and her older sister Sam. Through the chaos and financial cuts, Val notices that her sister has some new items; items that, by the looks of them, she should not have been able to afford. As the story continues, Val reaches a breaking point. Will she reveal Sam’s secret to her family to save her?
I love Melissa Groeling’s idea of taking serious topics as family loyalty, social issues, and bad decision-making, and turning it into interesting, suspenseful, and entertaining story for young adults to read and learn about some of the consequences of taking things lightly, or not thinking before getting into certain situations. I especially love the message of how the decisions we make and what we do can affect also our family, as well as our future, and can sometimes put everyone in danger.
Groeling’s writing style is simple and of easy flow, which makes this a quick read. However, make no mistake, it is thought provoking as entertaining and thrilling. The only flaw I found was maybe on some meaningless dialogue here and there that felt like fillers, as they didn’t seem to move the story forward.
In general, I found “Traffic Jam” by Melissa Groeling to be a thought provoking and suspenseful story for young adults and YA fans who love a thrill with a message!