In an effort to show you that I can be incredibly shallow about how I pick out books, this book drew me in with it's beautiful cover and mysterious title. So when I saw that Jen Robinson gave it her seal of approval, I plopped it in the Amazon shopping cart. (So yes, not only am I shallow, I also shop at Amazon)
I had to do a quick adjustment of expectations (I enjoy not knowing anything about a book before I read it) when I learned this book had a male protagonist. With a name that could either way. How confusing to have a girl on the cover? Anyway, no matter, the prologue drew me in very quickly.
But this isn't really a fast paced book in the traditional sense. It takes the entire book to understand the prologue. But that's okay, because it takes the entire book for the maximum impact to be felt. This is a more slow building book, a book where our main character, Leigh, is revealed to us through his actions and relationships, but also through his own confrontation with himself.
Leigh's stepsister's father dies and she requests that he comes to live with her family. Leigh adores Millie and so agrees to spend his senior year with his father, stepmother, and Millie. When he is there, he meets Maia, a beautiful but troubled girl. Maia struggles with a range of intense issues from an eating disorder to self-injury. The person she most trusts in the world is her former stepfather who is in prison. Her fragility awakens a sense of protectiveness in Leigh and he falls in love with her. The story is set with the Iraq war as a backdrop and an excellent ground to explore responsibility.
After the Moment is the story of that first love. But it's also a story of what love means, of responsibility and guilt, of knowing oneself and one's desires. It's beautifully written. Even though he's a boy, I did understand so much of Leigh and his people pleasing ways. Repeatedly throughout the book, his mother worries he lives only to please others and that all comes to a boiling point with great implications.
As much as I enjoyed the whole book, it was the last few paragraphs that I loved. I found them to be so true.
Are you one of those adults still on the fence about YA? You might try this one.
Things You Might Want to Know: Since this book is about a seventeen year old boy, there is inevitably a bit of sex talk, but it's not crass all all, just very real. But he is sexually active, which Christian parents might take note of.
After the Moment is published by Houghton Mifflin and is available in stores everywhere. Or online.