Sunday, October 11, 2020

Moment of Truth

West, Kasie. Moment of Truth
March 3rd 2020 by HarperTeen
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Hadley Moore is a dedicated high school swimmer who is hoping to get a college scholarship for the sport, so she is NOT happy when a serial prankster crashes her swim meet and throws off her performance. Someone has been doing this a lot; wearing a high quality mask of action film character Heath Hall and interrupting things. Hadley is bound and determined to find out who this is, and enlists her friend Amelia to help her. They eventually track down an account, and Hadley starts messaging back and forth with the elusive prankster. She also starts hanging out with Robert a bit, and also Jackson. Jackson is a little obnoxious, but her parents love him, and Hadley has her suspicions that he might be the prankster. This is all a welcome diversion from her home life; Hadley had a brother who died before she was born, Eric. Eric had leukemia, and while her parents have cleaned out his bedroom, his car has been sitting on a platform in the front yard for the last eighteen years. If that weren't enough, her parents choose to attend a leukemia fund raiser being held on the same day as her swim team awards banquet, and expect her to miss the banquet as well. When Hadley finds out more about the prankster and gets involved with some of the activities, she borrows her brother's truck, and things don't go well. Will this be enough to get her parents to come to terms with their long standing grief?

West's books are great, light romances with high school characters, but are written in a way that they appeal to middle school readers as well. Even the print in the book is larger than the usual Young Adult novel. Her flirtations with Robert and Jackson are fun, and Amelia's interest in the swim team trainer D.J. add a little extra romance.

The swim team angle is especially welcome; there should be a lot more books involving girls in sports, and it's good to see that Hadley is serious about competing. This has some similarities to A Amy Fellner Dominy's a Matter of Heart, but is generally more upbeat.

It's good to see that Hadley is finally able to talk to her parents about the cloud of grief hanging over the family, and get them to see that they have been too focused on her long gone brother. Readers who like books that combine romance with family issues, like Dessner's Saint Anything or Lock and Key, or Colasanti's So Much Closer will enjoy exploring Hadley's life.

This was not my favorite West title. The mystery with Heath Hall wasn't interesting to me at all, and the whole issue with Eric seemed unrealistic. The parents have kept a truck in their yard for eighteen years? The mother admits to never having gotten therapy, but she prioritizes a dead child over a living one after that length of time? Hadley also mentions that she's gotten perks for being "the girl with the dead brother", but honestly, by the time she hit kindergarten, no one in the community would really remember her brother. Purely for personal reasons, this left a bad taste in my mouth, but my students will love another title by this author.

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I feel as if others have handled this topic better. The Year Without Michael, for example, is excellent. I just checked and I have read two books by this author but they were not memorable.