After The Moment
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
328 pg. (HC provided by TLC Book Tours)
Leigh only wanted to help his stepsister get through her crisis. His life was on a path, one he couldn't see clearly, but at least he was on the map. Maia Moreland brought questions about his next step. Was he headed in the right direction? Could he include Maia in that plan?
After the Moment starts at the end. Leigh runs into Maia at a party. She looks the same but different; better somehow. He jumps back four years and remembers what brought him to this point.
Leigh is seventeen in most of After the Moment. We learn most of what we know through Millie, his stepsister, and Lillian, his mother. We understand how his father, Clayton, played a part who he is. How he doesn't want to be like Clayton but he's not sure what that means. Leigh's hesitant to make some decisions because he wants the people around him to be happy and he understands he plays a role in that. We get a clear picture of Leigh and can feel his joys and his confusions.
Although I could connect with Maia, it was a tenuous connection based on the very small fragments of her behavior I understood. Sometimes her actions didn't make sense. I believe Freymann-Weyr wrote her that way on purpose. Maia Moreland didn't really know herself. She was putting her life back together, working with the pieces she had and connecting those to the pieces she was currently fashioning. When Leigh talks about his collage, it reminds me of Maia's life.
After the Moment moves slowly and deliberately. We start at the end, flashback to the all important year, and then return to the present to wrap things up. Throughout the story we are treated to Leigh's thoughts on the war. I think these glimpses of Leigh trying to understand what's happening over there are supposed to mirror what's happening with him and Maia but I'm not sure. I don't see why else they would be included because I think this story could be told without this angle.
This little books packs quite a few writing gems. I stopped noting them after a while but here are some I enjoyed:
"The kind of mess that can only be created by lawyers, parents, and threatened charges of criminal negligence."
"...Maia Moreland was the object of his sister's crush--the kind a twelve-year old girl develops on the girl she wants to become." (love this!)
"...he built his universe on Maia's smile..."
I enjoyed After the Moment. Although it's not a book that you gulp down it is a fairly quick read. I thought most of the characters were well-written and the uncertainty of love described beautifully. We have another of Freymann-Weyr's books in our library and I'll be sure to read it, too.
About the Author
Garret Freymann-Weyr grew up in NYC and often sets her books there. She went to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received an MFA in film from New York University. She has written four books for young adults including My Heartbeat which won the Printz Honor for excellence in literature for young adults. She currently lives outside Washington, DC with her husband. She has said that the best way to get ideas is to read a lot because that "gets you thinking in terms of story, character, and image."
Freymann on the Internet
Garret discussing After the Moment
Garret Freymann-Weyr website
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