A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on June 25, 2013
Published by Atheneum Books
Read From: 10.19.13 - 10.21.13
While the rest of India anxiously awaits the upcoming partition that will divide the country into two sovereign nations, eighteen-year-old Tariq focuses on his own goal: to study at Oxford. He simply must find a way in, to fulfill his grandfather's dreams, and his own. But for a Muslin born and raised in India, there is no obvious path to England - until Tariq is offered a job, translating for one of the British cartographers stationed in India and tasked with establishing the new borders. In a flash, he accepts the position, determined to use this new contact as his way to Oxford.
Margaret, the cartographer's daughter, has only just arrived in India. But already she has discovered it to be hot and sticky and loud. It's dull, too, because she can't go anywhere alone for fear of the riots and violence. So she is eager for a distraction. . . .and finds one, in Tariq. . . .who, of course, has his own reasons for inviting her attentions.
But it's Anupreet, another member of the staff, who has truly captured Tariq's eye. She's strikingly beautiful, marred only by the fresh scar that runs down her cheek - and the fact that she's Sikh, so not someone Tariq can even be caught looking at. Yet he's compelled to. . . .until these emotions take a backseat as more serious - and potentially fatal - tensions arise.
Characters: I didn't like Margaret from the start. Her first reaction toward Anupreet was to be jealous of her because Anupreet was prettier, and Margaret took an interest in Tariq simply so she could flirt with him. She was spoiled brat who was desperate for drama. Her only good quality was her medical training, and she doesn't get to do much of that in the story. I liked Tariq well enough; he was ambitious and wished to better himself and make his way in the world. As much as I disliked Margaret, I didn't like it when he started using her to get a good recommendation from her father. But overall, I liked Tariq, especially at the end when he defended Anupreet. And on that topic, we come to my favorite character: Anupreet. She was sensible and hardworking and just all-around likable.
The Romance: The love triangle is not nearly as prominent as the synopsis makes it seem. Margaret likes Tariq, and Tariq does find both her and Anupreet pretty, though he is more attracted to Anupreet. His flirtation with Margaret is more so she'll put in a good word for him to her father. Anupreet, meanwhile, has no interest in Tariq until the very end. She's too busy getting through every day - and as a Sikh girl, she shouldn't notice a Muslin boy anyway. So if you're worried that this is just a romance, don't worry; the romance is hardly there.
Plot: Other than being misleading about the romance, the synopsis does a very good job of summing the story up. It's not a complicated plot, and it's more character-driven, but it's very interesting to read about how Pakistan was formed through the eyes of three different teenagers from three different backgrounds. I would have liked to have known a bit more about Margaret's father's motivation behind not helping Tariq get to Oxford more, and the end was lacking in certain areas. But India has always fascinated me, and this particular moment in its history is one that I wish I knew more about. While A Moment Comes is fictional, it's a great story to pique a person's interest in this historical event. I wish it had been longer, though.
Believability: The Author actually offers a very balanced view on the Muslims and Hindus. There is no "this side did worse things than that side," and in modern-written stories I am always surprised when certain historical events are presented in a balanced way. It is the politically correct thing to depict Muslims as the misunderstood, peaceful group - or people who were understandably correct in their acts of violence; that they were forced into enacting horrible acts. However, Jennifer Bradbury does a very good representation of the Muslim, Hindu, and even British viewpoints during this time.
Writing Style: First person, present tense. Each chapter alternates between Margaret, Tariq, and Anupreet as narrators, which I enjoyed. I would not have liked to have been locked inside Margaret's head for this entire book - or Tariq's, even though I liked him well enough. I didn't care much for the present tense, either. There are a lot of native words used in A Moment Comes, and most of them have in-text translation or are explained based on context. There is also a glossary, but there is no pronunciation guide, and I would have liked to have had that.
Conclusion: I don't mind open-ended books, but this one was too open-ended. We don't find out Tariq, Margaret, or Anupreet's fates, and I really wanted to know! So while I enjoyed the majority of this book, despite Margaret, the conclusion left much to be desired. It was too sudden, too inconclusive, and I found myself feeling unsatisfied.
Recommended Audience: Girl-read, fourteen-and-up; adults will also really enjoy this book. Readers who find India fascinating or just like historical fiction will find this an interesting read.