REVIEW: One Moment by Kristina McBride
Dear Ms. McBride,
I’ve been in a reading slump lately. It’s probably the result of a speculative fiction overdose. I love these genres but sometimes a girl needs a change. When I saw your novel offered up on NetGalley, I decided to give it a look. I always say I need to read more contemporary YA. And while your book isn’t perfect and I had a few major gripes, I’m glad I gave your work a try.
Maggie has always been one of six close friends who’ve known each other since childhood. Their junior year is coming to an end. It’s almost time for summer, which means it’s their last hurrah before their final year in high school. Maggie has big plans for this summer, most of which revolve around her beloved boyfriend, Joey.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t come to pass. When a fun dare during Memorial Day weekend turns tragic and Joey dies in a horrible accident, Maggie is left to pick up the pieces. But it’s not just the grief and loss that threatens to overwhelm her. Maggie lost her memory of the events immediately before and after the accident. She desperately wants to know what happened even though part of her knows the knowledge will change everything. Because it turns out Joey had some big secrets — many of which affect the relationships with her other friends and taint her precious memories of him.
This was a very fast read. It was absorbing and intense while reading it but looking back, I realize it was superficial in some ways. Some readers will like how fast it sucks you in, but I can see how other readers will be left unsatisfied by the lack of true depth.
I found the handling of grief and loss to be authentic here. Maggie’s desire to regain her memories coupled with the irrational fear of what might happen if she did rang true. Throughout the novel, until she regains her memory of what happened, there’s the lingering doubt that she may have caused Joey’s death. Certainly not a good thing to have hanging over your head when the police are investigating what happened.
I wouldn’t call this book a meditation on life and death such as Revived or Fracture. It’s more like an exploration about the relationships we have with people and the facets we show other. There are pieces we’ll never know about other people, but that others may be intimately familiar with. Maggie’s journey to overcome her selective amnesia examines this in full detail.
On the other hand, I thought the revelation about Joey was obvious. From the first appearance of Shannon, it was pretty apparent what was going on there. So when Maggie discovered the truth, it lacked the impact it could have had. This might also be because I thought Shannon’s portrayal was rather flat. I realize the novel is told in Maggie’s first person POV so the narrative she filtered, but Shannon was shown to be “the bitch” from the get-go and she never truly deviated from that.
My other complaint involves the relationship between Maggie and Adam. I can’t talk about it properly without some spoilers so stop reading if those bother you.
I understand that Adam was concerned about Maggie and wanted her to be happy, even if it was with Joey. At face value, I can accept both of these things. You can’t force a girl to like you if she doesn’t. Plus, there’s their close-knit group of friends to consider. I’m on-board with these decisions, for the most part.
But there’s a part of me that finds it repellant that he knew about what was going on between Joey and Shannon and didn’t do anything about it. Even after Joey’s death, he still couldn’t say anything and instead left a photo album on Maggie’s porch to tell the truth for him. That act struck me as passive aggressive and rubbed me the wrong way.
Then on top of this, to add in the romantic subplot between Maggie and Adam at the end. I knew the narrative was trying to present Adam as the great guy who’s been there all along while Maggie was dating a two-faced liar, but the execution and timing of it all left a bad taste in my mouth. I couldn’t get behind any of that. The narrative seemed to be sending conflicting messages: Joey was a horrible person and Maggie should have been with Adam all along, or Joey was a flawed individual but he had his good points. I couldn’t reconcile these two things.
I found One Moment to be an absorbing read, and I don’t regret reading it. Despite the lack of nuance in certain aspects, I thought the first three quarters of the book were strong. Unfortunately, the final act, and the resolution to the relationship between Maggie and Adam, brought my grade down. C+