This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget.
Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party the night before. She remembers climbing the trail hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below—dead?
As Maggie’s memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?
The thing that I like best about One Moment is that even though it had a pretty simplistic storyline, it executes it wonderfully, with loads of emotion and excellently written characters. The story spools out from an accident that happens when these six close friends go cliff-diving. Maggie’s boyfriend was going along with her for her dive, but instead ends up hitting a ledge on the way down and dying. For her part, she can’t remember what exactly had happened up there right before the jump. As she begins to unravel the memories locked in her own mind, she contemplates her relationship with him, and looking back she realizes that the Joey she had built up in her mind and the Joey she knew weren’t the same person.
It delves into her naivete, her belief in him, that she never sees the signs that he was hiding something. To be fair, for an outsider like a reader it would be fairly easy to see what was happening, but as someone who has seen such things happen in real life, I can assure you it is very difficult to spot what it wrong when you are close to the person. The writer makes a good effort towards that – establishing how their friendship was, what they mean to each other, how the actions of one could hurt the other. The story lets the characters be fallible, to be unsure of things like a kid should be, to be trusting as you can be at that age. Those were the best parts of the book.
On the flip side, though, I felt besides the characters, the plot didn’t have much going for it. I thought it might be a mystery, but it really wasn’t. The fact is that, though there is an unreliable narrator, you can pretty much guess what happened in the start itself, leaving nothing to mystery. There was a death, and the cops are pretty laidback about it – no one is barricading the path to the cliff or what not. Aren’t the parents worried some other kid will try that dangerous dive? But just a few weeks later, our characters are waltzing up there again. The romance part, itself, I felt was a bit rushed, considering she was just moving on from her long-term relationship. I know it was to give it a happy ending, but in this case, an open-ended one could have also worked. The story had to be about them healing, understanding and moving on, after all.
Overall, I would say this is an emotional book, written nicely and great for fans of contemporary.
Received a galley from Skyhorse Publishing, via Netgalley.