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Book Review: One Moment by Becky Hunter

Book Review: One Moment by Becky Hunter

Scarlett and Evie have been best friends since they were children. They went to the same school, holidayed together, remained as close as sisters through university, and eventually moved in together in London. But now Scarlett is dead, a freak accident as she stopped to help a cyclist on the road, and Evie isn’t coping well. Not least because she argued with Scarlett the night before she died, but because Evie also has MS, a debilitating disease that saw her give up her beloved violin and has left her all-but housebound. She can’t contemplate life without the one person who made life feel less difficult, and she certainly can’t forgive Nate, the man she blames for Scarlett’s untimely death.

Watching as her friend struggles to come to terms with her loss is Scarlett, who’s stuck in a strange kind of limbo. She witnesses Evie falling into the dark depths of depression. She watches as Nate – distressed at the unintentional part he had to play in Scarlett’s death – tries to pick up the pieces of Evie’s fractured world. Evie has become terrified of life and it’s easier for her not to participate at all. Nate, on the other hand, lives in the moment. He doesn’t like to linger in one place too long, or dwell on things he can’t change. His spontaneous nature may be at odds with Evie’s defeated, play-it-safe mind-set, but he might also be exactly what she needs to push her out of her comfort zone.

Told from both Scarlett and Evie’s perspectives, One Moment is a story of life and death, of endings and beginnings, of learning to take chances even when it scares the hell out of you. It takes readers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, starting with the shock and pain felt in the aftermath of Scarlett’s death, and moving through the different stages of grief that Evie goes through. She’s distraught, of course, because she’s lost her best friend, but she’s angry too. At Nate, at Scarlett, at herself and the disease that’s taken so much from her already. It’s the same with Scarlett, who hasn’t got an outlet for her feelings. She can’t reach out and comfort her best friend, but she can cheer her on from the in-between. Watching the life she’s left behind gives Scarlett a new outlook. She notices things she didn’t when she was alive. And there’s a strange kind of blessing in that.

Nate’s life was so different from hers. His world was still so big, whereas hers had compressed right down. And whose fault is that, hmm? She wasn’t sure if it was her voice or Scarlett’s in her mind.”

One Moment centres around a death but it’s really a story about life in all its beautiful, messy, sad and wonderful forms. The romance between Evie and Nate is perfectly paced, offering those kind of small, subtle moments between potential love interests that make readers fall for them as a couple before the characters themselves have even fallen for each other. Nate deals with Evie’s initial spikiness with admirable patience and a whole lot of effortless charm. He’s such a kind-hearted and thoughtful character – it’s really no surprise that Evie finds herself drawn to him. She’s drowning in loss and he offers her hope. But Evie is much stronger than she thinks she is and Becky Hunter allows the character to find her own courage in a way that feels natural and well-earned.

Whilst the romance between Evie and Nate is integral to the story, there’s a much bigger love story at play here, and that’s the love between Evie and Scarlett. Their relationship might have become strained in no small part due to Evie’s MS but their shared history isn’t something that can be easily erased. There’s such a sense of sisterhood between them – they champion each other’s successes and commiserate each other’s defeats. That doesn’t just disappear when Scarlett dies. If anything, the time and distance makes their love stronger because they begin to understand each other better.

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One Moment is such an easy book to read but it never compromises on emotion or realism. It’s a poignant, uplifting and life-affirming tale of friendship, love, grief and learning to let go. But mostly it’s about finding the strength to be brave and let go of the fears you can’t control. It’ll have you welling up one moment and smiling the next. And by the end, your heart will feel a little fuller.


One Moment was published by Corvus on 2 March 2023

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