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A Moment in the Sun

129
A Moment in the Sun
Sixteen-year-old Rei Murata appears to have everything: good looks, brains, artistic skill and admiring friends. But Rei is a survivor—of loss, neglect and of self-isolation. Locked away from a world where she felt unwanted, Rei was one of the millions known as the hikikomori.

A chance meeting leads Rei to discover the online world of the Dwellers. Astonished to find her former classmate Sho among their number, Rei is determined to rescue him. Rei learns she must come to terms with her past before she can face her future. For her peers, the barriers of class and society must fall, so they too can move forward.

No one is ever lost, Rei believes. She hopes to lead Sho, and the rest to their moment in the sun.
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"That tower is where he can have a moment in the sun."

These words written by Tory Gates not only skillfully captures the book title but also frames characters' desires. For a story that focuses on such weighty issues as depression, homelessness, suicide, isolation and abuse, there is also an undercurrent of hope, survival and acceptance.

The frailty of one's psyche is addressed through various characters' voices. We see the tragedies for which the characters have fought desperately to rise above. Some succeed. Others don't.

At the outset of the book, Gates creates dramatic tension of a girl, traveling incognito, whose hope, as Gates writes, "was to remain and leave what she fled behind." That girl is Rei Murata, a sensitive teen artist whose young life is shaped by the death of her mother and a painful disconnect with her father. Her father's life choices prove catastrophic for his relationship with his daughter. Subsequently, Rei forges a relationship with Yui and other Dwellers, an online group of teens wrestling with their own demons. One crucial character in this tale is Sho. Sho is the reflection of many of the characters in this book: talented, sensitive and caring people who crave respect and acceptance. So many dark clouds invade his life. The adults in Sho's life (from his parents to a teacher) aren't kind to him. These experiences haunt Sho, and sadly, place him on a collision course with tragedy.

Gates is an excellent writer. What Gates succeeds in doing is developing a multitude of characters. From their physical descriptions to their emotional well being, the reader is invited along an intense journey of self-discovery.

There were moments in the book, though, where too many characters and a liberal use of flashbacks made it difficult to follow. However, this doesn't distract from a well-written, powerful plot.

I would recommend this book to readers because it is both engaging and thought provoking. I give it a Gold Book Worm Rating.
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