First, the characters. Charlie is, of course, the boy with the tragic past. He’s in a good foster home now, but that hasn’t always been the case. Some pretty awful things have happened to him and it’s warped his perception of himself. This was the ONLY storyline I found really intriguing in The Infinite Moment of Us. How Charlie perceives himself and how others perceive him are too very different things, and it’s through the course of this book Charlie sort of reconciles the two. I thought the few scenes with Charlie’s foster family were by far the best in the book and the most real and raw.
Wren, on the other hand, is a rather flat character to read about. She’s the perpetual good girl who wants to make her parents happy, but not at the expense of herself. She’s from the “Allyson” mold of character from Just One Day, and much like I had trouble with that book, I had trouble with Wren too. She’s petty and over-jealous at times. The storyline with her parents was intriguing but got dropped later on in favor of the romance. There was a bit of “resolution”, but it was very on-the-surface and I never really bought it.
The romance between Charlie and Wren had it’s ups and downs for sure. There were some things I liked–the intense nature of it was realistic–and the physical aspects were so tastefully done and well-handled. Myracle really explores teenage relationships so well, but the disconnect with me comes from where I think in the end I’m supposed to LIKE Charlie and Wren’s relationship. I felt that I was, as a reader, definitely suppose to shake my head at some parts and then give the character a thumbs-up at others, like in the end, and I just couldn’t do that. Some of Charlie and Wren’s relationship just seemed so immaturely handled, and I think it’s a bit insulting to say that most teenagers would act that way at their age. Yes, Charlie and Wren are teenagers and teenagers fall in love quickly. But they also just graduated high school and are eighteen-years-old. They’re not new teenagers. If they had been say, fifteen or sixteen, then I could have handled the intensity and immaturity at times. But at other times Charlie and Wren make pretty adult decisions, and it just seemed strange to me they abandoned all sense to fall into their relationship in such a dysfunctional way.
While I did have problems with all of that, one of the main problems I had was with the character of Starrla. Starrla is the girl who has been Charlie’s hookup for the past few years in a very on-again off-again way. What gets me about this is that in-text, Starrla’s pretty much clearly labelled a slut by the other characters and is the “bad guy” because of that. She’s portrayed as off-the-wall crazy and possessive and the characters throw heaps and heaps of derogatory terms of her. Okay, I may not like that, but I can deal, because it’s the characters doing that, right? Nope. It goes from being an annoyance to being over-the-top. It seemed hypocritical to me for the book to portray Charlie and Wren’s physical relationship in such a good light(because Wren hasn’t dated before and is the “pure” character and her physical relationship with Charlie is treated positively, which is good and all, but when you contrast to Starla. . . ) and for Starrla to be cast in a negative light because of her physical and sexual relationships. It’s. . . troublesome in context, to say the least.
I know I’ve heard mostly good things about Myracle’s writing, but I found it a bit clunky in The Infinite Moment of Us. I think it was an attempt to really get inside Charlie and Wren’s heads, but again, it contributed to me feeling the characters were much younger than they actually were. It was just baffling. Charlie and Wren portrayed some poor decision making but also a lot of really great mature decision-making, but they sounded like fourteen-year-olds almost every time they did. Which is not to say that fourteen-year-olds can’t make those mature decisions, but not when your main characters are supposed to be eighteen. I also found the ending a bit sloppy and while I can point to a page and say “Yes, there was resolution here,” I never really FELT like there was. I’ve heard really good things about Lauren Myracle’s writing but I have to admit to being firmly disappointed in The Infinite Moment of Us.
Final Impression: I applaud some of the portrayal of teenage relationships in The Infinite Moment of Us. There were some things Myracle did really well that I thought were NEEDED in contemporary YA, but they were far overshadowed by some very problematic elements. The dropped storylines of Wren and Charlie’s family were highly disappointing, as was the portrayal of Starrla. In a work that tries to treat physical relationships so positively, it seemed a grave oversight to have your over-the-top off-the-wall character being the school “slut” with Wren being the perpetual good girl.