The Plot: It’s the summer after high school graduation.
Wren is a good girl, who has always done the right thing, especially when it comes to her parent’s expectations. Come fall, she’s supposed to be going to college and starting pre-med. But is what her parents want what Wren wants?
Charlie’s background is much less privileged than Wren’s. He tries to forget his past (the neglect and abuse) and instead focus on what he has now: a foster family who loves him. A safe place to call home. He, too, has college plans. Can he leave his past behind?
Wren and Charlie have been classmates for years, but it’s not until graduation that they connect and fall in love.
The Good: Looking for a book with love, romance, and angst? The Infinite Moment of Us is perfect.
Some spoilers here, but I promise, I’ll keep the mild. Wren and Charlie have sex. They have sex because they are high school graduates, and it’s the magic of summer, and they are in love and lust with each other and with the sheer wonder of being in love and being loved. The Infinite Moment of Us doesn’t fade to black when it happens. I’ve seen more than one review call this today’s Forever by Judy Blume, and I think it’s an apt shortcut to explain what The Infinite Moment of Us is about and the content.
I love how responsible Wren and Charlie are — they talk about birth control, for instance.
The Infinite Moment of Us, like Wren and Charlie themselves, is about more than sex. It’s about Wren, and Charlie, and how they try to work out what it means to be a couple.
Wren has a secret: not from us, or from Charlie. From her parents. She doesn’t want to start college in the fall. She wants time to find out who she is. She wants to take a gap year and volunteer with a program called Project Unity. More than want: Wren has already deferred admission to college by a year to participate in Project Unity.
Charlie’s secret is a bit more complex. Secret isn’t even the right word. Charlie’s past means that he is incredibly loyal to his foster family and friends. If something happens to his younger brother, or his ex-girlfriend texts, he is out the door to help them. Yes, I did say ex-girlfriend. Charlie doesn’t love her — is no longer involved with her — but emotionally, he is there for her as a friend. He was abandoned as a child and he will not abandon a friend.
See what is happening there? The conflict is both internal for both characters (Wren yearning to discover herself, Charlie wanting security) and external (Wren’s parents, Charlie’s ex) and the conflict is never a flaw in either of them. It’s natural, it’s organic, it’s understandable, and it’s not impossible.
I loved how The Infinite Moment of Us is about class, without being about class, and touching on possibly the last time that people from two such different backgrounds would share space and time. Wren and her friends Tessa and P.G. are fairly well off financially. P.G. may have the biggest house; but Wren has never had to work a part-time job. Wren is privileged, no doubt. I wouldn’t say she is spoiled, but she is often unaware of her privilege. And, yes, while a high school graduate she is still young in some ways. Wren has been protected — part of her yearning for Project Unity is she realizes this and wants to get beyond it and she fears going straight to college would be just more of high school.
Charlie is a foster child, now in a loving family, but not before. He still carries that, emotionally. His current family is wonderful, terrific, loving. They also don’t have much money. Charlie works, and has for a few years. Like Wren, he is smart. He’s going to college. But, because of his background, he doesn’t always fit with Wren. She’ll say something that to her is a joke, or expects shared knowledge, and Charlie doesn’t get it. I loved how The Infinite Moment of Us illustrates those subtle issues of class. It’s also there in how Wren doesn’t understand Charlie’s connections to his family and friends.
Speaking of class, Charlie’s ex, Starrla, could easily have been a caricature. Instead think Tara from Friday Night Lights, only without any support system to help her along. That’s Starrla. In a way, Charlie was lucky to have had such a bad mother, because he got out. Starrla is still stuck with hers. The girl has problems, problems that Charlie cannot fix — but there was just something about that girl that I rooted for her. I understood why Charlie wouldn’t just stop taking her calls. (As a matter of fact, Starrla fascinates me so much, and I am so worried about her, that I want her to have her own book.) Wren’s continuing lack of sympathy for Starrla illustrates just how removed Wren is from any background that is not her own.
And there is a shooting range. How many books have teens visiting a shooting range? And while it’s not that type of book, that The Infinite Moment of Us shows responsible gun ownership made me happy.
There is so much more I want to say. Like how I loved the resolution. And how Wren and Charlie are two good kids. I love books about good kids. And both are smart and kind. They aren’t perfect, but I also loved them for that, also. I loved how they were both also allowed to be immature at times because hello, both are still becoming who they will one do be. So, yes, it’s a Favorite Book Read in 2013.