Tuesday, May 26, 2009

After the Moment review

After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr


Leigh Hunter leads a quietly charmed life. He's smart, athletic and popular almost without trying. His girlfriend is one of the hottest girls in school. His mother pretty much stays out of his way but they still have a good relationship. His father is a complicated man that helps Leigh examine the type of man he wants to be. The major challenge in Leigh's life is figuring out what colleges he will be applying to next year. Then Leigh has a tough decision to make and the direction of his life is forever changed when he falls in love with Maia Moreland.

This is a rather lovely book about a smart, sensitive guy who is growing up right on the page. It took me a couple of chapters to get used to the book. The writing is very layered and sophisticated. I felt like the tone of the novel is more geared toward an "adult" book rather than YA just because the strong third person narrative is slightly removed from Leigh's 17-year-old life. However, the writing really carries the book. I was impressed with how self-aware Leigh was, how we were able to get into his head and see the kind of guy he was. Yes, he is a very good guy and he knows that but he's not perfect and he also knows that. He's sometimes selfish or brash or moody. The whole time Leigh recognizes these different aspects of his personality and he asks himself why is he this way, why can't he say what he's truly thinking, why do words fail him, how is he going to control his own destiny? The struggles of growing up, both mentally and physically, are right there on the pages and we as the reader are so connected to him that I felt myself struggling right along beside him and asking myself the same questions. It's truly a compelling read.

I was reading something today where an author said he would like to see more YA books written at a high-school level. I wasn't quite sure what he meant but thinking about After the Moment, I think that he may be talking writing level. I have to say I agree with him because I enjoy the challenge I get from the writing while still being able to enjoy a novel in my favorite genre of books. I read this book slowly but at the same time it was so satisfying that I could not put it down. I think it's important for readers to be introduced to this type of writing in YA literature.

Leigh's story begins in the months after 9/11 and he's lives in New York. It's interesting to have this kind of backdrop for the story and I really enjoyed the subplot of how the war impacts (and doesn't impact) Leigh's life. Although the time period is pretty well established there isn't any pop culture references to 2002 really, unless they are fairly vague. I enjoyed how firmly entrenched I was in Leigh's world. It really helped me understood how everything unfolded for him.

The adults in the story were referenced by name just as the teenagers were but it was still easy to tell all of the characters apart. I enjoyed the dialogue that was realistic, almost contrary to the narrative with how simple and young it was for Leigh and all of his friends. The plot unfurled in an unhurried way but it wasn't slow because there was always so much going on in Leigh's head, even if there wasn't much going on in terms of action. The story is told mostly through flashback as Leigh sees his former girlfriend Maia again at a party. The events that do happen are shocking and heartbreaking and everything in the book builds to this so you really care about everyone involved. Even though it was easy to care about these characters, it was not always easy to understand them because Leigh didn't understand them and all we had was his perspective. Still, that made the book more interesting.

If you pick up this book and you find yourself turned off in the beginning or you're not immediately grabbed I advise you to stick with it. This book is definitely worth the read just to get inside the man of one young man who might represent the challenges that other guys like him and it's important to see this kind of perspective. You might be surprised.

My main gripe with the book is that Leigh's name was spelled Leigh instead of Lee. Leigh is more girly than Lee but at the same time I can see why she chose that spelling.

Check this book out!

1 comment:

  1. After the moment is a book that you have to really be focused on since the begging or else you wont understand it in the end. The fact that this book concentrates on teens allows other young people like myself to engage well. this book takes a different take on love, one that shows first love dosen't always work out. it also shows the realistic things teens go through on a daily basis including friendship, love, school death and divorced parents