Book Review: Heat of the Moment

Heat of the Moment (Moment of Truth #1)
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Page Count: 304
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

Lyla McAfee is heading to Florida with the rest of her Senior class for a school trip. She can't wait to get a tan and spend some quality time with her boyfriend, Derrick. The vacation that she has been looking forward to for months gets off to a rocky start when she misses the bus to the airport. According to the school, students who miss the bus will not be allowed to go on the trip. Lyla cannot accept that she won't be allowed to go and she immediately begins to think of a way around the rule. To her astonishment she is not the only one who was late - the handsome Beckett has also missed the bus. Could it be fate that the bus was gone? Lyla and Beckett decide to defy the school's regulations and they head for the airport.

Lyla doesn't want to admit to her boyfriend how she managed to arrive at the airport after missing the bus. I found this to be odd because if Lyla and Derrick have the amazing relationship she claims it shouldn't matter that she got a ride from a guy. I also found it odd that Derrick never texted or called Lyla when she wasn't on the bus. In fact, I didn't like Derrick in the role of Lyla's boyfriend at all. He seemed very self absorbed and I didn't feel chemistry between the two. The only time he seems to act like a boyfriend is whenever Beckett is around, but even then I didn't like him. I spent the majority of the novel trying to figure out what Lyla saw in him in the first place.

Lyla's vacation certainly isn't the one she planned. She spends most of it fighting with Derrick and trying to figure out how she feels about Beckett. I certainly was rooting for Beckett. He was one of the only characters who felt sincere throughout the entire novel. 

Lyla also has a lot more going on than just boy problems. Her relationship with her parents is less than ideal. After her parents split during her sophomore year, her dad moves to another state and doesn't stay in touch. Lyla pretends that she is fine with her home life, but in reality, she has a lot of baggage and questions her worthiness. This also forces her to seek perfection in her relationship with Derrick. She refuses to see the problems between them. Instead she feels that if she moves her relationship to the next level everything will be fine. It was slightly annoying to watch her think about intimacy with Derrick when it was so glaringly obvious that these two had some issues. Lyla also doesn't allow people to get too close; everyone in her life including Derrick are kept at arm's length. The quest for perfection begins to chip away while Lyla is in Florida. 

On top of the boy issues and the trust issues, Lyla keeps receiving an email she sent herself when she was a freshman in high school. Her younger self hoped that by the end of high school she would learn to trust. The email is almost a mythical element, popping up when Lyla needs to be reminded most. Throughout the course of the moment, Lyla learns to trust in herself and in a few others. I have faith that she will continue to grow in this respect as the series moves forward.

It should be noted that this series focuses on Lyla and her two former best friends, Quinn and Aven. The girls stopped being friends when Lyla felt like they betrayed her sophomore year. The story behind the betrayal unfolds gradually throughout the story. Each of the novels in the series will focus on a different girl in order to show the experience of each of them working through their promises to their younger self. There is a scene on the beach towards the end with these three that made me hopeful that someday they can mend their friendships. I also thought it was interesting to show a group of girls who had allowed their relationship to crumble. Most of the YA stuff I have read lately portrays strong female friendships (which is awesome) but it is also interesting to see friendships that don't work as they should. It makes it feel more authentic.

All in all, I enjoyed this one and I'm looking forward to Quinn and Aven's stories which will publish this summer. I liked the second half of the novel more than the beginning which did result in the 3.5 rating. The writing is solid; It took me some time to warm up to Lyla. Looking back, I understand why Barnholdt chose to start the novel in that manner. The reader needs to see Lyla before she experiences everything in Florida. To me, she feels like a different character at the end. This is a fun summery romance with surprising depth.

One Last Gripe: Lyla's preoccupation with intimacy irked me. I just felt like she was trying too hard.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved the banter between Beckett and Lyla.

First Sentence: Before graduation, I will ... learn to trust.

Favorite Character: Beckett

Least Favorite Character: Derrick, but Katie is a close second

Before graduation, I promise to...learn to trust. In the first book in the Moment of Truth series, Lyla discovers that trusting her head might be easy but trusting her heart is a whole other matter.

Each book in this paperback original series is told from the perspective of a different girl—Lyla, Aven, and Quinn—former best friends who wrote emails to their future selves back in freshman year about one thing they hope to accomplish before they graduate. When the emails get delivered on the first morning of their senior trip all three girls will spend the next three days trying to keep the promises they made to themselves four years ago. While each book follow’s one girl’s life-changing adventure, you have to read them all to get the whole story, including why they’re no longer friends and whether they can get their friendship back on track.

Lyla McAfee had all but forgotten the email that she wrote to herself freshman year and scheduled to be delivered right before graduation—the one promising that she’d learn to trust by the end of senior year. But when she receives it the first morning of her senior trip to Florida her life is sent into a tailspin. Soon she’s questioning her seemingly perfect relationship with her boyfriend, Derrick; her attraction to the school player, Beckett; and whether ending her friendship with Aven and Quinn, her former BFFs, was one of the biggest mistakes of her life.

The first book in a captivating summer trilogy, Heat of the Moment flawlessly balances romance and humor as Lyla embarks on her totally reluctant but completely irresistible journey of self-discovery. And readers will have a chance to discover whole truth about the fight that ended Lyla, Quinn, and Aven’s friendship in the next two installments of the series, coming out later the same summer!