CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 29 . . . . April 3, 2015
Hockey player James and his teammates are on their way to the local Tim Horton’s when a disagreement from that afternoon’s losing game turns into a struggle over an iPod near a local train track. Anyone could imagine this little scrap ending in damage to the technology, but in The Moment, the falling iPod distracts James for one second too many and he loses his leg. The split second decisions made by this character and his friends following the accident are plainly written and very real, but the overall tone of the book is not tense.
In quick chapters, the story unfolds with James learning what his life will be like after his accident. Once a contributing member of a competitive hockey team, he is now focussed on walking with his prosthetic, trying to navigate the school environment with a disability and becoming friends with an older mentor from the CHAMP (Child Amputee) Development Program. It’s a lot for a kid to absorb so quickly, but the author allows the true nature of a school aged boy to shine through as he becomes frustrated by his limitations, irritated by his mother’s worry and embarrassed enough by his accident that he leaves for school 30 minutes early so that he can be in his seat before the other students arrive.
Author Kristie Hammond’s dedication to making James and his friends authentic is what makes this book so valuable. James is stubbornly slow to forgive the hockey player he was arguing with (and blames for) before his accident, loses his temper with his younger sisters easily and finds the eccentric personality of his prosthetist difficult to warm to. Although he has a good friend in his CHAMP mentor, James is reluctant to attend a conference of fellow child amputees and thinks about how much he wants to avoid another lecture from his father about how fortunate he is to live in the only country that has an organization dedicated to helping kids. Hammond’s version of James is a true portrait of a boy who is coping with something incredibly hard – some of his days are good, but many of his days are bad – and that balance makes the book an easier read because he seems so real.
The author uses humour well in her text, and the dialogue between James, his friends, family and teachers has a genuine feel. Without knowing very much about the life of a child amputee (author notes indicate that she has a son who is an amputee), I felt like the level of detail provided about his hospital stay, prosthetist visits and recuperation was adequate and very clearly written. The inclusion of the CHAMP mentor and conference gave the book an extra boost of authenticity, and James’ discomfort and embarrassment at many stages of his recovery welded it all together well.
Hockey is like a bookend for this story of James and his friends as it begins with them losing an important pre tournament game and ends with James returning to the team to play again. Whether it is possible or not for a school aged boy to return to playing competitive sports so quickly after an injury like this is not something that is easily judged, and the author leaves the timeline of his return to game play vague. She does show that James doubts his own ability to play, finds it difficult that his coach and teammates treat him differently and that he struggles with nerves on his first day back so it seems emotionally fair. There is no fairy tale return to the ice, and the ending is similar in tone to the rest of the book so it doesn’t feel rushed at all.
It’s a short book that is packed with events and emotions that are well suited to a school aged boy’s life. Hammond takes a very serious subject and injects enough humour and reality to balance off the lessons that her main character and the reader learn together.
Penny McGill is a library assistant and children’s programmer with the Waterloo Public Library in Waterloo, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.