My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: Probably going to rate this around 1.5 – 2 stars. It’s not that I don’t think this book touched on some rather tough themes (sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, etc.), but there were parts of this that felt so derivative and drawn out that I didn’t care for it. Hopefully I can explain more in my full review.
Oy vey, this is a tough review for me to write, and fittingly for a tough book such as “A Moment”. If only this book hadn’t delved into so many New Adult cliches and had cut down several sections which were unnecessary to the progression of the story, I probably would’ve given this higher. It actually tackles quite a few tough subjects, and I could see where that would be valuable for a couple like Liliana and Ryan. I have to give it to Marie Hall, foremost, on tackling sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, developmental challenges with a child having a disability, terminal illness, AND PTSD/depression/suicide in plausible context. It’s rough, I’ll admit, but plausible. It’s pretty difficult to do all of those with weight with respect to the overarching narrative and to do it while toggling between dual perspectives as Hall does in “A Moment”.
So what was the problem with the story? So. Many. Different. Things.
I’ll begin with the narrative itself. So many time jumps that it threw me out of the story. I think they were a disservice to the overarching narrative and there were sections that weren’t necessary. I didn’t understand why it had to have transitional gaps of months where there weren’t even significant details to the narrative occurring in those jumps. It would’ve been better if the author had noted the most major time jump in a single perspective point and went from there. I had to slog through those sections where they didn’t otherwise contribute to either character development or the overall plot progression.
This book also needed more thorough editing for grammar and vetting of details. I know this is an ARC, but it shouldn’t have had as many as it did to the point where it affected my reading experience of the novel, especially with being close to the final copy. The POV would switch sometimes within the same section and made it a confusing read.
This is a dual perspective novel between Liliana and Ryan. Liliana is a young Hispanic woman who has a baby with a developmental disability at age 14, whose father left the household, whose mother has a debilitating illness, and struggles to get an education and make a life for herself despite her circumstances. Ryan is a broken man, having served in combat and having heavy mental issues from his past where his PTSD/depression nearly drives him over the edge.
The two have a relationship that actually has some nice focal points in turns, but at the same time, is riddled with cliches in New Adult and romance that really drive me up the wall. I’m beyond frustrated at MMA fighters who are abrasive and beat people to the point of oblivion or near death over something like saying something bad to “their girl”, which is what Ryan does to someone who makes a comment about Liliana. I understand that Ryan has problems, but the possessiveness complex really gets under my skin. I’m over authors using “love” as the end all for healing past pains. “Love” is not a cure all – healing takes dimensions of physical, mental, and emotional resonance among other considerations, and I don’t think that belabored point in this novel represented the true dimensions of how some of the problems in this ran. I do get that the author was trying to say that the only way a person can truly heal is by healing themselves and finding that path, but I don’t think that showed in the narrative in the translation of events and dialogue. I couldn’t deal with the whole jealousy game between the leads either – it just felt like it was thrown in for drama when really there were already enough weights to contend with in the novel itself.
There were times when the attitudes of the characters toward some of the tougher issues in the work did bug me, but at least it didn’t cut corners in terms of how some people may approach them. I’m just not sure if the narrative really showed how the coming to terms against those contrasts came to fruition.
It may be an issue of “it’s not you, it’s me,” but I think there were several chances for this to be a fuller work, and due to the presentation and cliched turns, it didn’t amount to more than what it could’ve been.
Overall score: 1.5/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, self published by the author.