Publishing Info: August 27, 2013 by Abrams
Source: BEA 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 31, 2013
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...
When I first read the summary for THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US, I thought this would totally be a “me” book. It sounded like I shared a lot of things with Wren — not only in high school, but in present day as well. (Hell, I’m still trying to please my parents. I don’t think that will ever go away.) Add a love story with a “meant to be” aspect and I was totally jumping up and down for this one! Once I started reading, however, I wasn’t quite sure that this was what I expected it to be.
I could identify with Wren in regards to her parents — She wants to live up to their expectations and she’s always been a “good” kid. That totally was and always has been me… But Wren’s parents felt a little too harsh for me, to the point that Wren’s mom is telling Wren that she likes a certain kind of juice, Wren tells herself in her head that she never liked that kind of juice, and drinks it anyway. That just kind of threw up a red flag for me because not only are Wren’s parents forceful and overbearing, but clearly Wren doesn’t ever take the time or the courage to stand up for herself with even the smallest things and that really bothered me. Wren and I weren’t off to a great start.
Gosh, I can’t remember who it was (and please remind me if you see this, you lovely blogger, you) but I wholeheartedly agreed with her that I don’t like reading about a goody-goody and that’s kind of what I felt Wren to be. She was a good kid because she wanted to be, yes, but it was just a little too far for my tastes because I feel like she was doing things JUST to please her parents and never doing a single thing for herself. That’s just no way to live and it actually made me mad that she was doing that.
I tried to let it go and just let myself fall into the story but the dialogue and Lauren Myracle’s unique and creative writing style just weren’t sitting with me well either. On one hand, Wren and Charlie (and their friends) are very much teenagers — They joke around, try to impress one another, go to parties, and talk about their ‘first times’. But on the other hand, Wren and Charlie have incredibly deep, philosophical, and existential conversations. I understand that teens can easily be immature and mature at the same time, but the book seemed to jump from one end to the other and I didn’t feel a gentle or natural flow between these two polar opposites. The vernacular felt like that too, not just the topics of conversation. Maybe it’s just me being an old curmudgeon but I know that teenagers may use harsh words or language, but things like that don’t always read well in books. Tangent: I saw Lauren Oliver a few months ago and she made a great point that in books/TV/movies/media, the way people speak in real life is often edited out and made smoother because it’s just harsh to listen to unless you’re actually in that conversation — taking out the “ums” and the “uhs”, the cutting off sentences and backtracking and replacing harsher words with nicer ones, etc. Whenever I come across “realistic speak”, I feel like that point just gets driver further and further home because I find the “realistic speak” really hard to read.
I did like how Wren and Charlie ended up “meeting” and dating. They were two kids who went to the same high school, knew each other (in fact, Wren had a big crush on Charlie), but never really hung out before, so how special is that to see a crush blossom info a full-on relationship? I feel like too often I’ve read stories about a long-time crush seemingly turning into something and then the MC gets her heart broken or she gets humiliated. Unfortunately, I just never really fell into sync with Charlie & Wren’s relationship. I was rooting for them at first but I just never picked up on the chemistry between the two of them and with their two individual back stories, I just couldn’t help but compare it to PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry (give or take a few plot points).
Now let’s talk about two hot-button issues: the shooting range scene and the sexual content. Firstly, I actually appreciated seeing the characters handling firearms safely and that it was a big concern of P.G.’s that everyone do things appropriately and safely. I was happy to see guns NOT involved in a book as part of gun violence, but on the other side, I also agree with Christina that I’m not sure why that scene was relevant in the book at all except to make a statement… Maybe that was a way for Wren to try something for the first time that her parents wouldn’t approve of in a different and safe space? She had already made her decision to go to Guatemala though, so that just didn’t seem necessary to the book, in my opinion.
Now the sex part… Lauren Myracle does have a whole foreword as a kind of forewarning and explanation — She wanted the book to be realistic and she didn’t want to shy away from the details just because it’s a young adult novel, and I can totally support her on that. I’m just not sure I liked the details that were included in the book. I feel like a very inexperience teenager like Wren would probably have overlooked some of the specifics included and instead described… different things (hey, I’m not going to go into the details myself haha). I can only speak from the things my friends and I have talked about throughout the years (which hey, we’re girls… We talk about a LOT of things) and it just didn’t feel true to who Wren was — in spirit or in experience level. We had a whole discussion with this through email with all the Selective Collective ladies since we featured THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US this month, and that seemed to be a general consensus from a range of 20s – 40s in age (although I guess we’re missing the actual teen opinion haha).
I guess THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US just turned out not to be a “me” book. I didn’t quite pick up on the relationship like I’d hoped and there were quite a few points that turned me off. I did like some small things here and there but it just wasn’t enough for me to come out with a really good opinion of the book overall and unfortunately this is one of those books that the more I sit on it and think about it, the more I find that I was upset with. I actually found myself rushing through the end of the book because my connection with these characters had just waned and with the abrupt ending of the book, I felt jolted and unsatisfied.
Wren // Character Obsessions: Walking on eggshells with her parents, Guatemala, Charlie, finding her true path.
I really wanted to relate to Wren and to feel like we had travelled down similar paths, but the more I read, the less I found in common with her. I was frustrated that she wouldn’t stand up for herself and then the first time she does, it’s a HUGE life decision and an immense change. I felt like her relationship with Charlie was clingy, which true, I’m sure I had quite a few clingy relationships in my teen years, but sometimes that’s just really hard to read. Again, not necessarily a character issue, but more like I was seeing things I didn’t like seeing in “past-me” so it just makes it hard to read sometimes.
Charlie // Character Obsessions: His family, his brother, Wren.
Charlie wasn’t really swoony for me. He actually reminded me too much of Noah from PUSHING THE LIMITS which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but he also didn’t feel like his own character within my own thought process. Again, a me issue, but what can you do.
Kept Me Hooked On: The strength of love. I love a good “we’re-in-love-and-nothing-can-change-that” story. When either Wren or Charlie screwed up, it absolutely killed them inside and I think that’s a true tell not of guilt, but of missing someone that much or hurting so badly because you know you’ve wronged them.
Left Me Wanting More: Connectivity. I just didn’t quite connect with Wren or Charlie individually and I think that prevented me from connecting with their relationship. I’m not sure what it was, but I just never quite made it there.
THINK ON IT.
I know there are some good, solid positive opinions on this one, a lot of middle of the road, and some negative. This is one that I’d suggest reading reviews for, trust your go-to reviewers, and think if it would be the kind of book you’d jive with or if you’d find the same issues as others.