Title: One Moment [indie bound] [amazon]
Author: Kristina McBride [website] [twitter] [facebook]
Publisher: Egmont USA
Format: eBook (ARC)
Source: Publisher (via NetGalley)
Parental Advisory: language, alcohol, death, criminal activity
Teachable Moments: fidelity, group dynamics, dealing with grief
“I had to figure it out. Something. There was something I needed to understand. But I knew I didn’t want to. Whatever it was — back there.”
Summary (from the publisher):
Memorial Day weekend was supposed to be perfect for Maggie Reynolds — Dutton’s blow-out party, cliff-diving with her life-long friends — a prelude to the carefree days of sumer before the group would take over as seniors. But then something went terribly wrong.
Maggie remembers standing on the cliff, hand-in-hand with her perfect boyfriend Joey, ready to jump into the water below. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. But why can’t she remember what happened in that last moment, so she still stood on the cliff, and Joey ended up dead?
As memories start return in brief snatches, they just lead to more questions: Why were Joey and his best friend, Adam, fighting at the party? Where did Joey go after dropping her off? And what other secrets was he keeping from her?
With everyone pressuring her to share what happened, her friendships on the verge of collapse, ad Adam (who seems to know much more than he’s willing to tell) drifting away from the group, Maggie has never felt so alone.
Maggie has just lived through one of the most traumatic days of her life. Being present at the death of her boyfriend. Only, she doesn’t remember what happened. She remembers what lead up to his demise and then what occurred directly after, as for what happened during the actual event she is drawing a complete blank. Then, over time, as she starts putting pieces back together she discovers that the close-knit group of friends they shared know more about Joey’s life and the events of that day than they are leading on.
With a basic and not entirely surprising plot, One Moment had the benefit of a suspenseful tone. Despite knowing what the big twist was long before it was revealed and not having the thrill of shock or surprise when Maggie discovered Joey’s secret I still felt the complex emotions involved. To that point, what made the plot most interesting was the journey Maggie experienced as she unraveled Joey’s past. Add to that the fact that she was grieving and rebuilding her own future it made for a strong character. As she worked through the information trickling in both through investigative means (her own as well as the police) and as her memory began returning each of her remaining relationships shifted. People who she thought were reliable and trustworthy turned out not to be so. Additionally, she found that her own expectations of others were to high and she was too rigid about how people would fit into their group. Moving through the grieving process opened her to being more flexible and accepting of others.
The romantic elements were varied. I don’t want to go too deeply into them here as it would spoil one of the better experiences of the story but I will say that I felt the love that Maggie had for Joey. She grieved his death strongly. She also struggled with her growing feelings for their friend Adam. His affection for her was comforting at a time when she felt she couldn’t rely on others. It was intriguing, really, how romance was the root of the story yet there were very few truly romantic moments. Yet still you could feel no shortage of love between Maggie and a number of friends, family and romantic interests.
The strongest element of the book was definitely the look at group dynamics. Maggie and Joey were part of a very small and tight group of friends who grew up together. A rarity in most social structures these days the group stayed friends over the course of time. This made for compelling shifts in their relationships; shifts that were platonic and romantic in nature. If I had my way, how the friends related to each other could have been the central focus of the entire story. Though it was based on this mystery of what really happened with Joey and there was certainly some suspense to that, I think the more dramatic moments and the more interesting portions of the story were those that dealt with the interpersonal relationships of those left behind.
One Moment is a book that I wasn’t immediately taken with. It was a sweetly written story with some character depth but for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on it felt somewhat muted. I suppose that may have been the goal given the material but I wanted to feel more drama than I did. While I appreciated the lack of melodrama that McBride’s understated style encouraged I wanted to feel more of the angst that Maggie was encountering. Her memory loss and the trauma that spurned it should have felt more heightened than it did. Having said that, after I finished the book and let it settle for a couple of days I found myself liking the it so much more. I felt for Maggie as she tried to figure out what happened the day Joey died. More than that, I appreciated her determination to not only remember the events but to also put her life back on track after some very painful discoveries regarding their relationship prior to his death.