Review : One Moment
What it’s about :
It took only one moment for Maggie’s life to be forever changed. One moment, and the beautiful summer she had planned with her boyfriend Joey and their four best friends takes a turn for the worst.
With her grief, Maggie also has to deal with guilt. Guilt for not being able to remember her last moments with Joey – and his last moments of life. Guilt for not being able to tell her friends and family what happened then. Guilt for having forgotten, and not knowing what role she has played in her boyfriend’s death.
My Thoughts :
To put it simply, One Moment is a roller-coaster of emotions that almost exclusively goes down. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking exploration of grief and guilt, but oh so depressing. Except for a few pages in the beginning, and a few more in the end, there is almost no relief from the dark, drowning feeling. Even the memories, often filled with love and joy, are tinted by the knowledge we have of what is coming in the characters’ future.
I will admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect from One Moment. There seems to be many titles about sudden grief and deadly accidents on the YA shelves this year, which is interesting to me. Grief is a universal subject, yet it can be so extremely different depending on who, where, when, what. The strength of One Moment is that it takes you from the first moment of death, through the first few days and the funeral, and then the return to a supposedly normal life. It’s a process that is long and painful for Maggie and her friends, and while some points of the story were very predictable (I’ll come back to that), I admired how heartfelt the grief was. Raw and powerful, a mix of guilt, anger, love, betrayal, forgiveness, sadness, it was complete and complex, with each character reacting in a different way.
There is also a small mystery that is hinted at very early in the book, and takes almost all of it to develop fully. When Maggie discovers Joey had a secret, she is obviously intrigued and determined to find out what it was, even though she fears she might not want to. There is an incredible tension within Maggie, who oscillates constantly between “I don’t want to find out/do this” and “I have to find out/do this”. It’s a bit unfortunate that, for the reader, the mystery is in fact not mysterious at all. This is one aspect of the book I found disappointing: even though Maggie is the one narrating and picking up all the clues, she is absolutely blind to them. You can partly blame it on her grief, but not all of it, as many hints are pieces from past memories.
As for the characters, I felt the author could have done a little more with them. While Maggie was complex, believable and likable (to me, anyway), I do wish her friends had been less one-dimensional. It felt like the group, as a whole, came from a popular mold with the characters set to specific roles. I liked them, and I did feel their friendship, but I wish there had been more to them. Only two of them get a little more depth toward the end of the story, which I really appreciated.
I do not want to dwell too much on the negative aspects of the story as I really, really liked One Moment. I read it quickly and it really broke my heart in many little pieces. The author’s writing felt perfect for Maggie, being close to her main character’s emotions without being overly dramatic, and it felt like it was one of those novels that really presented well how one’s life can be completely changed from one moment to the next, without a warning.
I do believe that many readers of YA contemporary fiction will appreciate this book. While the plot itself isn’t new, Kristina McBride found a way to write grief, love, and friendship in an honest and emotional way, that will leave few readers indifferent.