May 23, 2012

Review: A Moment Like This by Anita Notaro

Paperback: 320 pages
Published: May 10th 2012 by Transworld Ireland
Source: review copy from the publisher
My rating: 2/5 

Goodreads Summary: Be careful what you wish for...

Antonia has always put everyone else before herself. Shy and quiet, her life in a small village in Wicklow has been devoted to her invalid mother and singing in the local church choir. Somehow, it's easier that way.

But when she is left alone her friends encourage her to audition for a television talent show. Blessed with a glorious singing voice, she is suddenly thrust into the limelight and enters the world of celebrity and glamour. She's the Girl from Nowhere, but can she cope with this startling new life? Antonia discovers that this business is tougher than she ever thought possible, but also that she's stronger than she thought she was. And she finds that help can come from the most unexpected places..

My Review:
This book was a miss for me. I had an odd feeling about it since the beginning and despite my efforts to find something to love, I'm not sure I succeeded.

To start with, the author does a lot of telling instead of showing, especially in the first half of the book. There are a lot of fillers such as "Dad used to love...", "Mom used to love...". Also, the phrase "I felt like Mom was here with me/looking down on me/ standing next to me..." , though it's more than true in moments after such a loss, occurs too often.

Antonia, the main character,  makes sure to fill us in on the unfortunate beginning of her childhood, probably to accentuate the gratitude she feels to her adoptive parents. In fact, as it turns out, they have done her more disservice than good by keeping her sheltered.

I didn't like Antonia, the main character. She felt too picture perfect, two-dimensional. Her extreme shyness was off-putting from the beginning. I don't like girls who are constantly blushing whenever someone speaks to them and waiting for others to tell her what to do. That changes very little in the course of the book. I didn't feel the need to root for her or sympathize with her in any way. Her whole success actually happened to her. I often wondered how'd she survive on her own were it not for her neighbors and the show producers. The one time she tries to show some initiative, she makes a stupid mistake that most 15 year old girls would know to avoid. At moments I couldn't believe how a 25 year old woman could be so naive and daft about how the world works, even when it comes to the most mundane things. Was she over-protected by her parents? By the time I finished the book, that was my main impression of her.

The twists felt forced, and the imperfections that the author inscribes in her otherwise too perfect characters never felt genuine. Like throwing in a speck or two to disperse the angelic glow. I wasn't convinced.

This was a typical Cinderella story that you actually hear on every talent show: some unrecognized small town talent with a sad life story making it big. Admit it, you've seen it so many times. A Moment Like This could have been a moving story if there was more truth to it: more showing what a cruel, cruel word it is, or else it remains on one scene in the course of the entire book, and even that one a cliché.

Obviously, reading it wasn't a complete waste of time, or else I'd just have stopped reading. I was curious about what kind of obstacles wold be put before Antonia, how she'd handle them, heck, I expected a tear-jerker. Instead, I remained unmoved and detached and emotionally completely unaffected by what happens in this book. 
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