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The Infinite Moment of Us Paperback – August 12, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Wren Gray has spent her first 18 years pleasing her parents, earning perfect grades and early acceptance into the school and program her dad was hoping for, and, of course, keeping clear of boyfriends. Charlie Parker has spent his first 18 years navigating through foster homes and maintaing his position under the radar. He has loved Wren since the first time he saw her. When chance brings them together for their first conversation, it's electric, and they both know that neither one of them will ever be the same. Wren just might have the courage to look for what she wants out of life-and Charlie just might finally know what true love is. This charming romance has multidimensional characters, straightforward sexuality, and a pace that lets readers fall in love with the main characters. Myracle expertly captures the intense connection of first love, from the need to spend every moment together to trying to figure out how to communicate with one another. The abrupt ending feels out of sync with the rest of the book, but readers should be pleased with it nonetheless. Myracle does not remove the physical aspects of two teens in love, bringing to mind Judy Blume's Forever. A romantic read that doesn't shy away from steaminess.-Emily Moore, Camden County Library System, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
For starters, both of the main characters create their own problems 99.9% of the time. Wren insists that Charlie choose her over his family (not to mention his brother who is paralyzed...), and Charlie insists on destroying this new relationship he "cares so much about" by lying to Wren every chance he can to help his old girlfriend when she needs him.
Next, this book is such a cliche. I knew what was going to happen by page ten! And the discussions between Wren and charlie sound like the author was trying to find their own John Green type of philosophical yet witty and light hearted writing style and it just fell so flat. I realize young love develops very quickly but all the talk about their "souls being connected" was just too cheesy to even handle.
Finally, I'm not an idiot...I realize young adults have sex. However I could not believe how explicit this novel was! It left nothing to the imagination and the sex scenes could have easily been straight out of 50 shades of grey. I enjoy novels that talk about teen sex honestly and tastefully (FIOS did it right), but this was too far. Not only was it extremely graphic, but it glorified unprotected sex and sending naked pictures (not to mention uprooting your entire life for someone you just started dating two months prior).
I know not every novel has or should have strong, independent lead characters. However I do believe that YA novels should, in some way, instill a positive message. Happy ending or not, this novel provided a horrible example for young adults.
Charlie Parker is going to Georgia Tech, on a scholarship. He's had a hard life; from the abuse he suffered as a child, to being bounced around foster houses. Then he went to live with Chris and Pamela, and he found home - with the arrival of his wheelchair-bound little brother, Dev, Charlie's life has never been so good. But before school is over and they never see each other again, he's given a moment in time with the beautiful Wren Gray - who he has loved from afar for years. One tentative wave changes everything for Wren and Charlie when their lives collide . . .
`The Infinite Moment of Us' is the new novel from Lauren Myracle.
This is the first Myracle novel I've read, but I was about 50 pages in before I started wondering why this was such a departure for the author of such controversial books. You see, even though I hadn't read a Lauren Myracle novel before `The Infinite Moment of Us', I knew of her as a resounding voice of difference in YA. I know that she wrote about small-town homophobia in 2011 novel `Shine' (which is in my `Been Meaning to Read. . . ' pile!) and a contemporary YA lesbian romance in 2007's `Kissing Kate'. I remembered a recent New York Times article titled `Childhood, Uncensored' which discussed her `Internet Girls' series topping the list of challenged and banned books nationwide. So even though I hadn't read her previously, I knew enough about Myracle to wonder why `The Infinite Moment of Us' was so seemingly tame.
It's a romance - between a guy with a rough past, and a girl who's only just started to come out of her shell. They have three months before she leaves for Guatemala, but the boy has pined for the girl from the moment he saw her years ago, and their falling in love is a small miracle for both of them. With each other, they both feel at `home' and they understand one another like no one else.
It sounds fairly generic. White boy from the `wrong side of the tracks' meets white girl from cookie-cutter family and fall into heterosexual love. For any other author, `The Infinite Moment of Us' would seem pretty normal, for Lauren Myracle it reads like a real departure from her grittier, more controversial novels.
Kirkus review likened the book to Judy Blume's `Forever', but with more emotional depth between the couple. I'd agree, to some extent. But for me this book was just like 1989 film (and one of my favourites!) `Say Anything. . . '. Right down to the conversation Charlie has with his best friend, Ammon, about wanting to ask Wren Gray out; "No. No way. I'm saying she's out of everyone's league, because she's not in a league. She's, like, in a league of her own." Which reminded me of Lloyd Dobler being warned by his two best female friends about aiming for a date with Diane Court; "Diane Court doesn't go out with guys like you. She's a brain ... Trapped in the body of a game-show hostess."
Other parts also reminded me of the film, but I'd hate to spoil.
And `The Infinite Moment of Us' is just as heart-swellingly, beautifully romantic as `Say Anything. . . '. Charlie Parker has the same sigh-inducing appeal as Lloyd Dobler, and Wren Gray is that same breed of beautifully complicated, sometimes frustrating female as Diane Court.
But as I got through the novel, I started to think that Myracle had taken a bit of a controversial stand in writing such a `straight' romance. Guy and girl get together, fall in love, overcome some obstacles, remain in love . . . it sounds overly simple and candy-coated, but it's actually quite rare these days to read a YA novel in which such a healthy romance is portrayed. Yes, Charlie and Wren have issues both internal and external - she's overcoming the fear of disappointing her parents, he's balancing the loyalty he feels to his adoptive family against his need to be with Wren as much as possible. Charlie also has a derailed ex-girlfriend called Starrla, who he lost his virginity to but whose own personal demons stopped her from ever getting close or serious about Charlie - but that doesn't mean she likes seeing him happy with Wren.
In the novel, Myracle touches on the biggest coming-of-age there is; falling in love for the first time. She writes about losing your virginity (and it being okay to wait for love, even when you're pushing 18). There's a sexting incident, but it's not blown up into a Danger! Danger! Danger! moral lesson - it's an expression of love between two people who are experimenting. There are also some wise-words between friends, as the difficult emotional path of love is navigated amidst family and life commitments; "It's what you feel, and guess what? Feelings are like three-year-olds. They're not rational. They're just there."
I recently read a great blog over at The Midnight Garden titled `Fiona Wood on Girls, Sex and Wildlife'. I agree with absolutely everything discussed in that post, about the prevalence of "carefully flawed" teenage characters and the lack of realistic sex scenes in YA. By contrast, `The Infinite Moment of Us' has some of those "carefully flawed" teen characters, and the sex scenes are lightly erotic without being vulgar (or ever really crossing over in `New Adult' territory) - I don't know how relatable Charlie and Wren's romance is for all their simpatico and idyllic first-time sexual encounters. It's actually interesting to note that while the book has been hailed by critics (making the Publishers Weekly best books of 2013 list) it seems to have divided teen readers. A glance on Goodreads shows a slew of 2 and 3-star ratings. Actually, quite a few teen readers are complaining that the book skims over meatier issues like foster care, child abuse, parental pressure etc. One reviewer even complained about the "endless lovey-dovey cheesy dialogue." Huh. Ok. Maybe it's a case of adults really loving this book for its portrayal of a more idyllic teen romance. Pretty interesting though that teen readers wish it had more (realistic?) tough-stuff and not so much of the gooey romance.
I, personally, felt like Myracle was writing more of a wish for teenagers - that they could be a bit more like Wren and Charlie. To take things slow, wait for it to feel right and start learning to listen to your feelings and express them to those you love. Maybe it's a bit twee, but I really responded to the quiet loveliness of the book where Myracle shines a light on a fairly simple first-time romance and the two very deserving, grounded young adults it happens to.