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These Are the Moments Paperback – May 26, 2015
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"Jenny Bravo has done the indie author community proud with this treasure of a novel. Incredibly well-written and observed, Bravo has a real knack for creating authentic characters YA readers will no doubt identify with." - Helen Scheuerer, founder of Writer's Edit
About the Author
JENNY BRAVO spent her childhood in Disney princess nightgowns and climbing trees barefooted. These days, she usually wears shoes. As a part-time writer, she drinks too much coffee and writes feverishly in the fringe hours. Otherwise, she blogs at jennybravobooks.com and plays on Twitter. While she calls New Orleans home, she also considers herself a resident of Narnia, Hogwarts and Neverland.
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I loved Bravo's writing-it is at least as good as anything that comes out of a major publishing house (and, in many cases, better!). She has a fun readable style that is very reminiscent of Rainbow Rowell. Yet, Bravo's real strength is in building characters. Wendy is a well-rounded and complex character, which shouldn't be surprising as she is the main character of the novel. However, Bravo takes the same care with all of the characters of this book, which really brought Wendy's world to life with me. It was surprising because in most books, even books that I consider exceptional, the secondary characters just aren't as full as the main characters. So, bravo for Bravo.
This book is told between two time periods--the present day, when Wendy and Simon are both going to be a part of their friends' wedding, and "the past" starting when the two met 10 years earlier. It does alternate chapter by chapter, but Bravo does a good job of bridging the two narratives. At times, though, I wished that she had combined some of the "then" sections so that she could have 2-3 "now" chapters for each "then" chapter.
I do want to talk a bit about the genre of this book. I did note early on that I wasn't quite sure what genre Bravo was going for, young adult or new adult. In truth, the book reads well through both lenses--which really is not a detriment as young adult and new adult are pretty much Irish twins in the literary world. But there is something much more interesting when it comes to genres here.
Wendy is a devout Catholic. In fact, she meets Simon--and most of the secondary characters--at a youth retreat. Wendy's faith is important, not just in terms of character development, but also in terms of plot. While this book is not "preachy" in the least, the presence of this character's faith would cause any major publisher to slap a "Christian" title on it. But, there is also a lot of drinking, some illusions to drug use, implied sex, and a whole army of f-bombs here--none of which any publisher would allow in a work of "Christian" fiction (and pretty much all of it was important to the story). So, if Bravo had gone the "traditional" publishing route, she would either have had to take out Wendy's spirituality, which would have flattened the main character, or taken out all the other stuff, which would have flattened all the other characters and sucked the life out of the world she created. By self-publishing, she wasn't forced to conform to one genre or another and her story benefited from it.
There was one aspect of this book that didn't work for me. I really felt that this story should have been told in the first person voice. As it is, Bravo uses a close third person point of view, much like you would find in a book where the narrative shifts between two characters--which is what I thought this story would be when I started (it isn't--and that's a good thing!). My guess is that Bravo probably would have been more successful using Wendy as a narrator. As it was, there were several points in the book where I was suddenly reminded that the book was in third person and I thought that Bravo had switched viewpoints on me--which resulted in my re-reading sections and interrupting the flow of the book.
However, that really is a small point against all the other strengths of the novel (and, I'm a critical reader, so many readers may not even pick up on it). I was wonderfully surprised by this book and now consider myself a Jenny Bravo fan and I urge readers to brave the world of self-published novels to read this gem.
I just don't.
I'm a firm believer that you either love something or you don't, and nothing any armchair critic has to say is going to change your mind one way or another. But These Are The Moments was so poignant and compelling that I'm sitting here at 7:40 on a Saturday morning writing in this box before I've even had a cup of coffee -- and I bought my own copy of the ebook after reading it on Kindle Unlimited for free.
Bravo crafted a cast of characters that felt like meeting up with old friends. You begin the story thinking you know where she's leading you, but her take on romance and coming of age strikes the perfect balance between fresh and familiar. Her writing is tight when it needs to be, lyrical in the right places, and pushes and pulls at those parts of you that never forget your first love. A stunning, bittersweet debut that nails the New Adult voice.
This book is much more than a YA love story, it offers real insight into how first loves influence and change us during the most impressionable time in our lives, as well as how friendships can endure and develop.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I first started reading TATM, but I found myself drawn into Bravo's world, and each time I stopped reading, I longed to go back to it.
An impressive debut from a talented author. Very much looking forward to the sequel.
Jenny's language and word-crafting is superb; quick, cunning and powerful and in a tone reminiscent of John Green but completely unique at the same time.
These Are The Moments captures those adolescent memories that mold us into the adults that we are.
Jenny Bravo has written true to life characters and relatable relationships. I will (and have already) reopen this book to indulge in Jenny's fantastic writing ability.