In this Moment by Karma Brown
Published by Park Row Books on May 30, 2017
Genre(s): fiction, contemporary, women’s fiction
Format & Length: paperpack, 297
Source: publisher via Goodreads Giveaway
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Bestselling author Karma Brown is back with a morally infused and emotionally riveting exploration of one woman’s grief and guilt over an unexpected yet avoidable tragedy.
Meg Pepper has a fulfilling career as a real estate agent, a hardworking husband on the verge of starting his own medical practice and a surprisingly good-natured teenage daughter. Most days Meg is able to keep it all together—thanks to an endless stream of alerts on her phone—and (more or less) seamlessly glide through life.
After school pickup one day, Meg and her daughter, Audrey, are driving home when they see Jack, the twin brother of Audrey’s boyfriend, up ahead. Seeing a group of boys on the other side of the road, Meg stops her car to wave him across the street just as an SUV comes hurtling down the road and slams into Jack. The driver—a high-school teacher in the process of texting—did not see Jack crossing the road.
Meg can’t help but blame herself for this horrific accident. Guilt-stricken and desperate with grief, Meg throws herself into helping Jack’s family as he rehabs from his injuries. But the more she tries to absolve herself of what she feels responsible for, the more she alienates her own family. The ripple effects that follow tear at the ties that bind her to those she loves the most, causing her to risk losing everything she holds dear to her heart.
An intensely emotional and believable story, In This Moment hit a lot of the right notes for me.
This novel opens with Meg Pepper jolting awake one morning to a loud bang that is a bird flying into her bedroom window. Meg realizes she and her husband, Ryan, have overslept since neither set their alarms, and hurries to get ready as one thing after another are thrown her way to be dealt with, including: the coffee carafe overflowing; starting to feel sick; a forgotten dentist appointment for her daughter, Audrey; and an argument with Ryan. All this in less than ten pages in the first chapter. And it just continues, as Meg fights to balance her family, work, and other obligations through the course of the day, never quite managing to keep everything quite right, even with all her phone reminders. Sound familiar? Is anyone else having flashbacks of Mila Kunis in Bad Moms?
And just that quickly, I was pulled into this story. Just that quickly, Brown has not only created a relatable character in Meg, but also pinpointed just how difficult it can be to be a woman in our current culture. While this theme continues to be explored throughout this book, it really is only the jumping off point to dig into other themes of guilt, grief, parenting, marriage, responsibility, and love. And Brown handles all of this with seeming ease to great effect.
The writing throughout this book is simple and effective, painting a vivid picture without being graphic. The characters feel fully fleshed out and dimensional. Even when I didn’t agree with their decisions, I could absolutely understand why they reacted in the ways that they did. And the whole book just flowed so easily, I almost felt like I was hearing the story firsthand from a girlfriend as she was telling me about her life.
“I hear the frustration in his voice, and wish not for the first time he could read my mind. After two decades of being together, I feel like he should be able to – I’m not that complicated.”
Ultimately, In This Moment was an absorbing and powerful story. This was the first book I’ve ready by Karma Brown, but it won’t be the last. Definitely recommended.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my copy via Goodreads Giveaway!