Author: Lauren Myracle
Genre: YA Contemporary, Coming of Age
Publication Date: August 20, 2013
Source: eARC from the publisher via NetGalley
Synopsis: For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now . . . not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?
Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.
And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them . . .
Sexy, romantic, and oh-so-true to life, this is an unforgettable look at first love from one of young adult fiction’s greatest writers.
2/5 stars – Well-written but overdramatic and unoriginal; Myracle can do better
Shine is one of my favorite novels and Lauren Myracle forever has my love for bringing that story to life. The characters and situations from that novel resonate with me even two years later and there’s not a single YA title on the market I can say is like it or comes close to being like it. How The Infinite Moment of Us came from the very same author is a little baffling because it’s the antithesis of Shine for reasons that have nothing to do with the content of either book.
Telling her story in dual third-person POVs, Myracle tells her tale with prose as straightforward yet beautiful as I’ve come to expect from her. The way she handles Wren’s troubles with her parents and Charlie’s past and home life are masterfully written. The careful way they’re handled makes me wish they were what the story was about instead of Wren and Charlie’s growing relationship. The talk of their growing sexual feelings is very frank and it’s made clear neither Charlie nor Wren’s desires are anything to be ashamed of. Sex-positive YA is always in demand, so that? Perfect. Wouldn’t want a thing to be changed.
This book and its frank, careful handling sex might be better if The Infinite Moment of Us felt a little less like a modern rewrite of Forever… by Judy Blume.
When I was about ten, my mother gave me a copy of Forever… I never read it, but I know the story and there are a lot of parallels between it and The Infinite Moment of Us. The immediate ones are the straight-talking, more experienced friend the main character has for support, our main character losing her virginity to the love interest in an unusual place after going on the Pill for him (Wren and Charlie should have figured out when they had to stop doing the deed to get rid of a stick that doing it in a ditch was inadvisable), and the impending separation the couples hope they can survive.
There’s a big difference between the world of teenage sex back when Forever… was published and how it is now, as is demonstrated when Charlie gets tested because he’s already been active. It may be nearly 40 years old, but Forever… is timeless. Original. This novel comes off as a modern rewrite with a few other issues thrown in. There can be a novel about love and intimacy that doesn’t feel so derivative.
Even notwithstanding all that, The Infinite Moment of Us has other problems going on. The character/treatment of Starrla, Charlie’s former flame, has too many issues to pinpoint and her involvement in the climactic scene was over-the-top and overdramatic. Our stars Wren and Charlie are thoroughly developed characters and feel real, but their character-driven storylines are rather slow and they get borderline unbearable sometimes. Charlie’s sometimes sexist thoughts are excusable (which is pretty much my seal of approval on a male character’s construction). Wren…
Wren has some very valid issues with her parents and it all reminds me a little of my own family. However, she crossed the border into ridiculous when she decided she wanted Charlie to leave behind his family (including his disabled brother), give up his scholarship to Georgia Tech, and defer his admission so he can go to Guatemala with her for a year and do volunteer work she wants to do while escaping from her family. She recognizes she’s being selfish and that’s good, but still. UGH. This all happens when they’ve been dating two or three months at most. My suspension of disbelief can’t handle it.
On top of all that, Charlie and Wren’s connection lacks that something to make it feel real. Charlie has been in love with Wren for who knows why for a while and Wren feels like she already knows him the first time she talks to him. It clicks that instantly and starts speeding forward like a train from that point without much care given to make the start of their relationship feel natural.
Perhaps coming into it with expectations of it being as powerful as Shine was unfair to The Infinite Moment of Us because the novels have two completely different focuses. Still, it’s hard not to be disappointed when one work is amazing and the other is… not. I dare say I may have been disappointed in this novel even if I hadn’t read Shine because it’s simply that underdeveloped. Myracle is considered one of YA’s best for a reason, so I’ll certainly read more from her in the future. My hope is that they’ll be closer to Shine in terms of quality and powerful storytelling.