After the Moment

by Garret Freymann-Weyr

A new novel by the Printz Honor author Garret Freymann-Weyr, about a boy who discovers what happens when love fails us—or we fail love.

Maia Morland is pretty, only not pretty-pretty. She’s smart. She’s brave. She’s also a self-proclaimed train wreck.

Leigh Hunter is smart, popular, and extremely polite. He’s also completely and forever in love with Maia Morland.

Their young love starts off like a romance novel—full of hope, strength, and passion. But life is not a romance novel and theirs will never become a true romance. For when Maia needs him the most, Leigh betrays both her trust and her love.

Told with compassion and true understanding, After the Moment is about what happens when a young man discovers that sometimes love fails us, and that, quite often, we fail love.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780547331683
  • ISBN-10: 0547331681
  • Pages: 336
  • Publication Date: 05/03/2010
  • Carton Quantity: 48

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About the Book
About the Author
Excerpts
Reviews
  • About the Book

    A novel by the Printz Honor author Garret Freymann-Weyr, about a boy who discovers what happens when love fails us—or we fail love.

    Maia Morland is pretty, only not pretty-pretty. She’s smart. She’s brave. She’s also a self-proclaimed train wreck.

    Leigh Hunter is smart, popular, and extremely polite. He’s also completely and forever in love with Maia Morland.

    Their young love starts off like a romance novel—full of hope, strength, and passion. But life is not a romance novel and theirs will never become a true romance. For when Maia needs him the most, Leigh betrays both her trust and her love.

    Told with compassion and true understanding, After the Moment is about what happens when a young man discovers that sometimes love fails us, and that, quite often, we fail love.

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts

    Chapter One. Black Ice

    The year Leigh’s stepsister, Millie Davis, was in seventh grade and Leigh was in eleventh, he heard a lot about Maia Morland. She was new in school, her mother lived in the huge house that had been empty for so long. Maia was really brave, Millie told him, as it was hard to be new in the tenth grade. Everyone had friends already. But Maia was really smart and pretty, only not pretty-pretty. And her mother had been married five times. (It would turn out to be only three, but Millie did say, quite often, Five times. Imagine it). On and on she went. It was clear to Leigh that this Maia Morland was the object of his sister’s crush—the kind a twelve-year-old girl develops on the girl she wants to become. He almost wished Millie were still obsessed with collecting stickers or building Lego palaces. Listening to his sister go on about her stickers would take less time than her endless talk about this other girl. Eleventh grade was a lot more demanding than Leigh had thought it would be, and he had to work so hard to maintain his B average that he ended up with straight A’s at the end of the first term. This in spite of being on varsity soccer, which not only took up most of his afternoons but twice sent Leigh to the emergency room: once to tape up some bruised ribs, and once to be checked for a concussion after getting knocked out cold. A lot of soccer matches were on weekends, and as his father, Clayton Hunter, was lenient about enforcing the custody agreement, Leigh wound up seeing his father, Millie, and his stepmother even less than usual. It was a long train ride from New York to D.C., and one he hadn’t made so often that year. In March, when Clayton called on a Monday, which was rare, Leigh assumed it was to say, Of course, it’s no problem. Go to the game in Pennsylvania this weekend. Lillian was in the tiny living room, which she used as a study and was where they kept the TV. Before the divorce, they had lived with Clayton in a big apartment on West End Avenue, but this one, on a side street off Broadway, fit them better. Leigh’s bedroom didn’t have a desk, but he generally had the kitchen to himself in the evenings to do his assignments or to read. That night, he felt like he should be watching the news, as the president was giving Iraq a new warning before the much-promised Shock and Awe could start. While Leigh was glad that the war had stopped his mother’s ravings against the obscene coverage of a little girl from Utah who was abducted from her bedroom, he didn’t want to think of the men not much older than he was who were about to go into battle. He felt lucky and relieved, of course, but mostly baffled by the knowledge that short of a draft he would not be going. And even then, he probably wouldn’t go. Clayton, more than once in the past year and a half, had mentioned cousins he had in Canada. “I’m a lawyer,” Clayton had said to Lillian when Iraq turned from a question of if to when. “I’ll get him whatever documents are needed.” Lurking behind all this was an amount of good fortune so large, it was impossible to be grateful for it. It wasn’t the same as being rich, which was an obvious advantage, as only an idiot would be unable to see. The good fortune that Leigh knew as his wasn’t something he could feel or point to. It was more like oxygen or blood; it was that intrinsic, so you took it for granted even though you really shouldn’t. That the impending war unleashed confusion in everyone was clear, but for Leigh it highlighted how little he understood his own life. So, in spite of vaguely despising himself for not facing the disquiet brought up by images of teenagers massing on the Kuwaiti border, Leigh pretty much tried to ignore the news. He happily picked up the phone when it rang and exchanged hellos with his father, preparing to discuss his soccer game in Pennsylvania. Maybe this time his father and Millie could drive up from Maryland. Instead, Clayton wanted to speak to Lillian. Right away, Leigh braced himself for something bad. His parents got along well, mostly because Lillian refused to blame anyone for Clayton’s affair with Millie’s mother. But even so, it was very clear that neither of them wanted to be in touch more than necessary. Leigh brought the phone to his mother and then, so as not to overhear anything, made as much noise as he could doing the dishes. When Lillian came into the kitchen, she sat down at the table. He looked at her and asked, “Tea?” “Scotch,” she said, and he pulled the bottle from under the sink and watched her pour about an inch into one of the jam jars they used as glasses. Millie’s father was dead. Which meant that Millie was halff of an orphan. Leigh refused to let his brain spin out the possibility of creating fractions from orphanhood, if that was even a word, and he listennnnned as his mother answered his half-formed questions. Seth Davis had flown to Kansas to attend a seminar and had died in a rental car on the way from the airport to his hotel. There’d been a five-car pileup—three deaths and countless injuries. A mention was made of black ice, although it was also possible that someone had been drunk. Autopsies would confirm that. Leigh thought of the fetal pigs his biology class had dissected the year before, and wondered why anyone had to bother with an autopsy. Black ice or a drunken driver. The reason wouldn’t bring Seth back. “Insurance,” Lillian said. “Liability, litigation. If someone caused this, money will be involved.” The money paid out to the families of people who’d died in 2001 had been a detail Leigh had been unable to grasp when the planes flew into history. He had barely started tenth grade when it happened. He thought he’d been having a math problem with the insurance story. Now he saw that what he’d been incapable of understanding back then was the attachment of a price to a person. It wasn’t that such a thing was right or wrong that bothered him. It was that such a thing was necessary. “What kind of seminar?” Leigh asked, also wanting to look at a map. Where was Kansas, exactly? Next to the Dakotas or farther west? In a little more than a year, he’d be living in Montana and would know all the states bordering the Dakotas—Kansas was not one of them. But on the night Seth Davis died, any state not on the Atlantic Ocean was, for Leigh, a landlocked blur. “It was a teaching intensive,” Lillian said. “For high school English teachers. I think Seth was giving a talk or getting an award.” Seth Davis taught English in the city’s public schools, and was also a literacy advocate for communities in need. Seth, Lillian once said, is an old-school idealist. Leigh thought of all the fuss Millie’s mother, Janet Davis, had made whenever Millie came to visit her father. Seth lived in a reasonable neighborhood in the block-to-block way that most city neighborhoods were reasonable. But Janet was convinced that there was every chance Millie would be shot on the street, pushed onto a subway track, or raped in a stairwell. She had not thought to be afraid of what a car could do. Yes, Millie was technically safe, but there was no way Seth’s death would leave her unharmed. “I should speak to Millie,” Leigh said, not at all sure he wanted to, but remembering clearly all the times she’d calmed down from a bruise or a cut if he just sat beside her while she got a Band-Aid or an ice pack. “They haven’t told her yet,” Lillian said. “What, is she asleep?” Leigh asked. “It’s not even eight-thirty.” “Your father thinks it might be better if you were there,” Lillian said. Clayton and Janet were waiting to tell

  • Reviews

    "Readers will appreciate how real this story feels, in its telling details and careful conversations . . . This is an expertly crafted story about a complicated first love."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

    "The book’s strengths lie in the characterizations and the author’s ability to convey the many complex layers of love. With its wise writing and literary word choices, this is a smart book . . . "--Kirkus Reviews

    ". . . an engaging male-coming-of-age tale that explores notions of violence, devotion, and trust against a thought-provoking backdrop of love and war."--Horn Book

    "The author’s prose is at once spare and sophisticated, and the resulting mood gentle and furious by turns. Simple details–Leigh synchronizing bites of cake with Maia–evoke astonishing emotion. The DC suburbs are appropriately generic, and the guilty comforts of the prep-school world are thoughtfully presented. The story begins and ends four years after Leigh and Maia part, and a sense of tense foreboding moves the plot."--School Library Journal

    “Freymann-Weyr . . . writes with polished intensity . . . Subtle, reflective, and emotional, this is a fascinating complement to Chris Lynch’s Inexcusable in its exploration of a young man who can’t see beyond himself enough to avoid devastating the person he loves most.”--The Bulletin

    "Freymann-Weyr offers another rare, sophisticated exploration of love at the end of adolescence . . . Within this story’s raw, honest, psychologically attuned scenes, older teens will find their own aching questions about how best to love, shape a future, and “do the right thing.”--Booklist, starred review

    "Written with great heart, this book caters to readers young and old."--Romantic Times

    "Freymann-Weyr’s newest novel about relationships (familial, romantic, friendship) does not disappoint. The author delicately balances a love story with family obligations, violence, and the perils of being a nice guy. Leigh’s fascination with the war and misguided chivalry challenge ideas about masculinity and its relation to aggression. Maia’s troubled nature and sometimes inexplicable actions are sure to spark debate. Several elements in this novel—multifaceted characters, ambiguous motivations, and gender dynamics—lend themselves to lively group discussions. Hand this one to mature readers who will get the most out of complex themes."--VOYA, (4Q4P)

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