But this book is not about that moment. It’s about what came after.
Maia is a trainwreck. She’s a recovering cutter, anorexic, alcoholic, and more. Leigh doesn’t expect to fall in love with someone like her, but he does. For awhile, it seems everything will go right, and then comes the moment after.
The book jacket says that Leigh betrays Maia’s trust and love, but I disagree. I won’t say what happened to Maia. I won’t spoil it. But what happens to her is messy, confusing, and walks the edge of victimhood. Leigh’s reaction is natural, and he does the best he can. His “betrayal” is not really so. Not to my eyes. This was Leigh’s coming of age story, not Maia’s. This is told from his point of view. If you looked through her eyes, perhaps his actions may seem like a betrayal, but from him, they weren’t. He did everything he could to protect her, and when he didn’t understand, when he didn’t know what to do, it was because he had no experience and because she wouldn’t let him in enough to understand. When people are in a place that is so raw and terrifying, they can’t be expected to act rationally, any of them. To me, this book was about circumstances beyond anyone’s control, and the moment when there is no right answer.
Something bad happens. It can either bring people together or split them apart. Often, it’s the latter.
When I read early in the book that Maia was recovering from anorexia, before I even learned about her other problems, I thought this book was going to be about that. I have very little experience with people with eating disorders, so I know next to nothing about it, but in books that I’ve read, often the disorder and dealing with the disorder becomes the focus of the book. After the Moment was not like that. Sure, Maia was a trainwreck. She was trying to recover and at times did better, at times worse. But her anorexia and other self-injuring behavior was not the focus of her life. I was surprised at how normal her focuses were. I think this is the first book I’ve read about a character with an eating disorder where the character is a person rather than the embodiment of the disorder. I really liked that. I thought Freymann-Weyr did an excellent job handling the subject. For that matter, she did an excellent job handling the other subjects which I won’t mention for spoilers’ sake as well.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book, but I was pleased with what I found. It’s thought-provoking, and I imagine it’s going to stay with me for a long time.