There is just something about young love. It is fierce and burning, yet fragile and fleeting. Actions and reasoning are frequently clouded by a haze of passion and the perpetual fluttering in the stomach caused by an army of butterflies. Indeed, it was Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince who said, “Oh to be young and to feel love’s keen sting.” Make no mistake about it, young love is a tumultuous business! However, it is also a treasured memory for so many of us. Few people do not recall their first love and the accompanying host of powerful and confusing emotions which the relationship produced. In his book The Move, Christopher McGoldrick explores this young love phenomenon. For romantics who are looking to experience a quick “blast from the past,” this short story may fit the bill!
As mentioned, this is a rather short tale and a very quick read. In a nutshell, seventeen year-old Lisa is forced to move out-of-state when her father gets a big promotion at work. A new city, nice big house and fancy private school. It sounds like the perfect opportunity for a fresh start and exciting adventures does it not? Unfortunately for Lisa, it also means moving away from her boyfriend who is the love of her life. How will these two high school students cope when living 700 miles away from one another? Can they really make this long distance relationship work at such a tender, young age? Or will it fall prey to inevitable misunderstandings and the doubts which frequently creep into such arrangements? Do they have what is needed to make it thrive? Or is this just another young love affair which is about to feel the bitter sting of rejection and collapse?
There are a few different themes which can be pinpointed in this story, but “love conquers all” seems to be the most prevalent. Christopher McGoldrick does a good job at developing his characters and exploring their conflicting emotions to support the theme of his story. For instance, from the moment the “move” announcement is made, Lisa is shown to experience anger, sadness, hope, doubt and surprise. The story delves deeply into her psyche and we really get a feel for what it would be like to be in her seventeen year old shoes. For many of us it triggers past real life experiences and intensifies our empathy and connection with the character. Jeremy on the other hand is a more mysterious character throughout the tale and we really do not get to feel the same powerful connection. He is shown to be more aloof and unpredictable throughout most of the story. This was undoubtedly done on purpose to support the overall direction of the plot however.
In regards to setting, while there was some description, it was minimal at best. There is little doubt that this is an emotional and character driven story. Nevertheless, further setting description could have contributed to intensifying the emotions which the characters undergo. There is nothing like a dismal and foggy day with light rain falling to emphasize the feeling of sadness and sorrow. Throw in a few claps of thunder and bolts of lightning and you have the personification of an angry sky. By not fully utilizing setting devices, I believe the author missed out on an opportunity to further enhance the plot and characters of the story and thus fully engross the reader.
As there are no adult themes in this story, I would recommend it for a Young Adult audience. Those older adults who want an opportunity to drift back to their past and once again experience the angst of their teenage years may truly enjoy this compact tale as well.
3 out of 5 Tender Stars for this one!