I really enjoy books that drag up a variety of emotions from me and After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr does just that. I have some mixed feelings about this book but it is a novel with great character development that deals with a lot of issues.
Looking at the cover and even the blurb is quite misleading. The marketing of teen books has been discussed a lot (including on this blog) so I will not rehash that here. Still, making a novel about a teen guy and his roles models look like a romance was a strange move.
As the novel opens, Leigh seems defined by those around him. Following a family tragedy, he moves to Washington D.C. to comfort Millie, his step-sister. While there, he meets and begins falling for the infamous Maia. He decides to spend his senior year there leaving his girlfriend, Astra, behind.
Leigh thinks a lot about his future and about being a man. In his new surroundings he basically acts as the head of the household because his own father is so incredibly aloof. Back home, his mother is getting more serious with a successful, soft-spoken man that Leigh greatly respects. Leigh studies the two men often just acting the opposite of how his father would act. Leigh feels like he is successfully taking care of his family and friends but is baffled that he can't figure out his future even though it seems easy for his peers.
Maia is someone that alters Leigh's path in life. In some ways she seems fragile and in other ways she seems perfect. Leigh desperately wants to give her anything she needs, but when things get rough can he still put her first?
It is incredibly intriguing to follow Leigh make his decisions to try to become the person he wants to be. Ultimately, however, it takes a long time for the book to get anywhere. Also by time the "moment" takes place, it is kind of a letdown.
Freymann-Weyr has crafted a challenging yet accessible novel. She writes guys very well and captures the never ending questioning of what it means to be a man in the modern world. Readers who enjoyed Funny How Things Change by Melissa Wyatt will also want to read After the Moment.