In This Moment
By: Karma Brown
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication Date: 5/30/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars Bestselling author Karma Brown is back with a morally infused and emotionally riveting exploration of one woman's guilt over an unexpected—yet avoidable—tragedy
Meg Pepper has a fulfilling career and a happy family. Most days she's able to keep it all together and glide through life. But then, in one unalterable moment, everything changes.
After school pickup one day, she stops her car to wave a teenage boy across the street…just as another car comes hurtling down the road and slams into him.
Meg can't help but blame herself for her role in this horrific disaster. Full of remorse, she throws herself into helping the boy's family as he rehabs from his injuries. But the more Meg tries to absolve herself, the more she alienates her own family—and the more she finds herself being drawn to the boy's father, Andrew.
Soon Meg's picture-perfect life is unravelling before her eyes. As the painful secrets she's been burying bubble dangerously close to the surface, she will have to decide: Can she forgive herself, or will she risk losing everything she holds dear to her heart?
Bestselling author Karma Brown returns following The Choices We Make (2016) with an with an equally moving, emotional and riveting follow-up.
—IN THIS MOMENT a woman struggles with complexities of tragedy, guilt, and secrets as her life unravel along with those around her.
Meg Pepper is a wife and mom with a real estate career. Married to Ryan, a physician. Daughter Aubrey age fifteen (boyfriend Sam Beckett).
Meg and Aubrey are running late for a dentist appointment and Meg is picking up her daughter at school. She is struggling to balance family and career and has not been completely honest about an event in her past.
They notice Jack (Sam’s twin brother) on the side of the road attempting to get across. His mom is a financial whiz and works at one of Boston’s private equity firms. The boy’s dad Andrew is a stay at home dad, having left a journalism career when the twin boys were born.
Jack has his skateboard on the curb’s edge in one hand waiting for the car coming toward their car to pass so he can cross. His friends are on the other side waiting. Aubrey tells her mom they should let him cross. She waves him across. A life-changing split-second choice.
However, just as she does so, the unthinkable happens. Jack’s body smashes into the windshield of the other car which came out of nowhere, too fast. Aubrey and Meg are mortified. How did this happen?
Sarah Dunn, Audrey and Jack’s history teacher was texting and had to stop too quickly.
However, it is Meg’s guilt, which haunts her.
She was the one who deemed it a safe crossing for this innocent and clearly vulnerable teenager now lying in the road with an injury that will forever change his life. How could she have let the boy cross the street?
The accident turns into a nightmare for all concerned.
Meg is suddenly slammed with a memory from when she was sixteen; from a terrible night where another teen lay bleeding and broken on a road in front of her.
She has worked hard not to think about that night because she cannot breathe around her guilt when she does so. But just like that, it was back and she was left sucking in air around the heaviness of the memory—
And like the part she played on that night so long ago, she was the reason Jack Beckett cross the road when he did. It is her fault. With a simple careless wave of her hand, she did this.
Soon they are at the hospital and she faces the family. With her daughter dating the brother, and even though the family may not be close friends they know one another through their children.
Meg becomes overwhelmed with guilt. Her family and Jack and Sam’s family torn apart. Meg becomes close to Andrew as her terrifying dreams continue. The past and present collide. She is thinking about Paige. Her friend from the past. Her face haunts her.
It has been twenty-eight years since that horrible night. Now the dreams surface again. Two days after Ryan slid the engagement ring on her finger. Only a week after her twenty-fifth birthday, when she learned her mom had cancer. Ryan in pre-med. A woman who had to grow up too fast. A sister who had to take care of her little brother and her dad.
Meg throws herself into helping the family and drawing closer to Andrew. Shutting out her own family in the process, especially her own husband. He knows the truth about the accident long ago, but he has never understood why she holds herself responsible. She carries it inside. She is spiraling out of control.
Andrew turns to Meg for support, and the two bond over the tragedy, putting at risk her marriage, family and her own moral compass.
Will these two families ever be the same?
As the past secrets and guilt collide with the present, Meg is at her breaking point. Emotional and heartbreaking, a picture-perfect life comes shattering apart in the blink of an eye. A wife and mother striving for perfection and balance with personal, career, and family.
She is searching for answers yet she cannot trust herself, to be honest through her grief with the weight from the accident of long ago and the one in the present.
Once again, Brown delves deep, exploring the intense emotions and pressure of guilt, grief, parenting, marriage, accountability, and responsibility. However, in the end, family comes first and that has to take top priority. If we let that slide, all will begin to unravel.
Brown has proven herself a strong voice representing the trials of the modern-day contemporary woman. I enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the novel. Publishers Weekly interview. Spotlight on Karma Brown.
A cautionary tale. This scenario could happen to anyone. My heart went out to Meg and the author does an exceptional job with the character development.
If you have read Karma’s previous books, she has a way with domestic suspense, tragedy, emotion, grief and aftermath – which hits on every cylinder.
She holds nothing back and you get inside her character’s heads. You feel the emotions. Their desperation. Their vulnerabilities. The character’s emotions are real, heartbreaking, raw, and painful.
The past tragedy and present storyline enhanced the overall tension and suspense, keeping you glued to the pages while demonstrating how guilt can hold you down and shape your life years later.
For today’s contemporary woman who sometimes strives too hard to be perfect. Thought-provoking in our fast and furious world today. Learning to forgive yourself in order to move on with your life.
For fans of Amy Hatvany, Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain, Liane Moriarty, Karen White, Heather Gudenkauf, Sarah Pekkanen, and T. Greenwood.
A special thank you to Park Row Books and NetGalley for an early reading copy.
On a side note: This road crossing fiasco is a real problem here. I walk everywhere in the downtown urban area of West Palm Beach and there are two major crossings which are quite busy, from my apartment. A crossing with four busy lanes to the market and shops and no way around it. The only route. Many times a car in one lane will stop to allow you to pass, at the crossing (no light here).
However, you cannot trust this, just as the book outlines— because the person in the other lane may not stop and the speed here is very fast. This is quite dangerous since a large number of elderly seniors live downtown, and walk to the store along this route. They are already quite unsteady in their walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters. I cringe each time I see this happen, holding my breath.
These elderly folks are like in their late 70s-90s and still trying to live independently in this crazy screwed up health care system of ours, which offer little or no support for long-term skilled nursing. (many of them living in my building).
When this happens to me, I motion for the car to pass along. Nice for them to make the gesture; however, a risk as the author outlines. Too much room for error when you cannot judge if the car in the other lanes will stop. In addition, we soon will have a train going 80mph at this same intersection with the station located here, with 40 stops a day coming mid-summer, so let’s hope they build an overpass or some alternative for all the S. Florida seniors. (myself included since I fall into this newfound category).
Publishers Weekly Spotlight on Karma Brown
Brown’s third novel, In This Moment, delves deep into an everyday tragedy that tests the limits of a mother’s ability to hold herself and her family together. Read More
"IN THIS MOMENT is a powerful and evocative story about the life-altering consequences of a single decision. Karma Brown delivers a riveting tale, infused with emotion and morality, that will leave readers asking, 'What would I have done?"
—Emily Giffin #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF FIRST COMES LOVE
"When an accident’s ripple effects threaten to tear apart Meg Pepper’s life, she must decide what--and who--matters most. Exploring the influence and consequence of guilt, love and responsibility, Karma Brown’s latest, IN THIS MOMENT, is an emotionally riveting read."
—Amy Hatvany AUTHOR OF IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME AND SOMEWHERE OUT THERE
"Karma Brown has a knack for zeroing in on a heart-stopping flash when lives can change forever, and then for deftly examining the fissures in a family that can materialize out of the aftermath. After reading IN THIS MOMENT, I’ll never casually wave anyone across a street again, but I will await Karma Brown’s next book with admiration and anticipation."
—Meg Mitchell Moore AUTHOR OF THE CAPTAIN’S DAUGHTER AND THE ADMISSIONS
"IN THIS MOMENT is a gripping examination of how one seemingly innocuous split-second decision can change your entire life. In her latest, Karma Brown proves once again that she is a masterful observer of the emotional nuance of relationships— both familial and romantic. A must-read."
—Colleen Oakley AUTHOR OF CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH AND BEFORE I GO
"[We] are ready for more of Brown's powerful, heartfelt prose. She's the female Nicholas Sparks." –Redbook
"Should appeal to readers who relish Nicholas Sparks' sentimental stories combined with the kind of weighty issues often raised by Jodi Picoult." -New York Journal of Books
"A warmly compelling love story [and] deeply moving debut." -Booklist
"Brown delivers an emotional punch in The Choices We Make. This is a good, old-fashioned tear-jerker of a book." -The Toronto Star
"[A] heartbreaking yet hopeful tale... Karma Brown is a talented new voice in women's fiction." -Lori Nelson Spielman, #1 international bestselling author of The Life List
"With effortless and beautiful writing, Karma Brown twists heartache and hope together in The Choices We Make." -Amy E. Reichert, author of Luck, Love & Lemon Pie and The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
About the Author
Photo credit Jenna Davis
Karma has always loved the written word. As a kid she could usually be found with her face buried in a book, or writing stories about ice-skating elephants. Now that she’s (mostly) grown up, she’s a bestselling author whose debut novel, Come Away with Me, was a Globe & Mail Best 100 Books of 2015. Karma’s sophomore novel, The Choices We Make, also earned her a spot on the Globe & Mail and Toronto Star bestseller lists. Her third novel, In This Moment, hits shelves May 30, 2017.
A National Magazine Award winning journalist, Karma has been published in a variety of publications, including SELF, Redbook, Today’s Parent, Best Health, Canadian Living and Chatelaine.
Karma lives just outside Toronto, Canada with her husband, daughter, and a labradoodle named Fred. When not crafting copy or mulling plot lines, she is typically running or working on her downward dog, hanging out with her family, making a mess in the kitchen and checking items off her bucket list. Karma is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists, and is currently wearing down her laptop’s keyboard writing her next novel. Read More