This Is One Moment, Mila Gray
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I loved, loved loved Mila’s Come Back to Me, and now she’s come up with another winner. What can I say about this read? Well, This Is One Incredible Novel kind of sums it up. Once again its a tightly constructed read, with every paragraph, every line counting. No fluff, no filler, just a story that kept me glued to the page once more.
The beginning – I was just waiting for that scene all the way through – I knew it would make me cry, and I just wanted to know – Why? Of course Mila throws in lots of emotions, scatters red herrings among the plots, brings us some wonderful characters, some laughter ( unicorns!!), as well as plenty of drama and tears. Its well researched too – as an amputee of some twenty years now I know all those feelings of manic happiness, and determined cheer that lead on to deep despair. When I knew I was losing almost all of my left leg I knew nothing, and was just “leg off, false leg on, back to work and normal life will be resumed.“ It took me a long while to accept I needed a new normal, that my old life was gone, finis, kaput. I had no idea how much life would change, how difficult it would be to manage a false limb with my high amputation, and recognise so well so much of what’s written here. That’s a treat, as so often authors write things that just aren’t feasible, just don’t work when writing about amputation….twenty years ago, in UK anyway, the limb centres were really geared up to older people, who lost limbs through illness such as diabetes, and someone like me in thirties was an anomaly. Now through the wars we’ve lots of younger amputees, and finally things are progressing towards rehab and a new outgoing life. My physio appointments were with a group of OAPs, sitting in a circle and catching a ball….and that wasn’t what I needed. Units like the one in this book are essential for active amputees. I had three teens, a full time job and my own horse that I rode whenever I was free, and all that came to a sudden halt. I needed to get as much of that life back as I could and catching a ball once a week wasn’t going to cut it.
So, the story itself. Well, again Mila has given us real characters, they feel genuine, are emotional and grumpy at times, rude, arrogant and unthinking. People do say things like “put your foot in it” to me, “look at that” to blind people, and then get very embarrassed and watch what they say around disabled people, more so than they need, and I understood Walkers feeling he’d scream if anyone else said Sorry. I loved Dodd’s alterations of the motivational posters – I often think stuff like that it drawn up by those who’ve no experience. I wrote to our MP a couple of years back. Disability benefits were changing, and as usual there was a curiously vague stance on how and what was going to happen. Looking online I found a chirpy little booklet from the Government site with a pic captioned on how much better Mr X would feel once his new leg was ready. Fine – except the man was an above knee amputee and the physiotherapist was holding up a below knee limb!!! Really inspires confidence doesn’t it? He’d have one hell of a limp if he could get that leg on…
Didi, “sort of” dating Zac, was a great girl. Full of empathy I think she’d struggle with the career she’d chosen. Its hard to remain detached and she just couldn’t do it IMO. She made me laugh talking about her parents, and her mum’s sex therapist advice…I was so rooting for things to work between her and Walker even though it was of course forbidden, as she was an intern there. Zac seemed ok, he liked Didi, but I feel he liked himself more. His day at the centre went pretty much as expected, and was cringe-making but sadly so true. I’ve had some of the comments, seen his look in some people’s eyes. I’ve had my head patted when I’m out in my wheelchair and told how brave I am. Well, a) I’m not a puppy, I don’t want to be patted, would anyone el;se get patted like that? b) it’s not like I have a choice, brave doesn’t come in to it. People mean well, but are thoughtless in how they approach it. Just treat us the same as anyone else. . Then there’s Walker,AKA Mr Grumpy, and who wouldn’t be? The Marines was his life and now what is he to do, plus of course he still feels so guilty for not being able to do more for the others. I love the way Didi and him slowly made progress, it felt so real with them having days which were good and days which just seemed to go wrong whatever they did. There’s the others in the book too – Sanchez and his wonderful wife Valentina, her cousin Angela, José – a member of the staff and the Chaplain. I love the way Valentina was trying to set someone up with Angela, and the way she’s like a friendly leech, determined to do something whatever the person concerned wanted. “ You will eat this cake” seemed to be her game plan! When Walker talks about avoiding the Chaplain, I recognized that – I did it too when I just didn’t want to talk. The hospital I was in was too far for visitors and a lovely lady used to come and talk to those with no-one visiting, but sometimes I just couldn’t face any positivity and I’d pretend to be asleep – and feel guilty later.
Its an incredible read, a beautiful romance, full of emotion, tenderness, drama and reality. I laughed, and I cried, it really ran the gamut of my emotions. There are books that are OK reads, decently put together but overall nothing special, nothing to lift them from the thousands of other romances out there, there are those that are five star reads, but in a one off sense, then there are books like this, in a class of their own, which are so detailed, so full of feeling that you know you’ll want to read it over and over.
Stars: Five, another fabulous read for keeping and rereading.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
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