Click here to buy it now: A Magical Moment
By Ayadh Farooq
Distributed By: Iuniverse
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
There are books where the concept sounds interesting. The characters sound interesting. The blurb on the back of the book even sounds interesting. And yet, something in the execution is flawed. It could be that the writer is not seasoned enough yet, or that the story is only good in theory and not drawn out on paper. These are the reviews that tug at my heart strings—the ones that it hurts to write. These are the ones that always sound like a giant insult to the author, although meant as constructive criticism. Yet, after reading A Magical Moment by Ayadh Farooq, this is the type of review I couldn’t help but write.
A Magical Moment is about a couple of things and a couple of people—which is the first thing that makes this book a bit maddening. There are two main characters. The story is about a man named Rick whose best friend, Buddy (the entire middle portion of the book is told from Buddy’s point of view) dies of a heart attack. Rick is reluctantly summoned back home for his funeral. It is not that Rick doesn’t wish to pay his last respects to his friend, but rather that in doing so he would have to see Buddy’s sister, Sami, his ex-girlfriend and the love of his life. But Rick does go back and together, he and Sami discover a book in Buddy’s apartment—one that tells them the story of the last few months of his life, and how they saved him and made him whole again.
Buddy’s story goes for most of the book, but begins somewhere in the beginning-middle and ends shortly before the book’s wrap-up. It is the story about how he, while seriously depressed with his life, stumbles upon a woman named Jawhera who he immediately falls for. He sits with her and spends time with her in the hopes of cultivating a romantic relationship with this girl, despite the fact that she is sickly and that she keeps her illness a mystery from him. It is the trusting relationship that supposedly brings Buddy’s life to a happier place, but as Rick and Sami read, they discover slight holes in the story and begin to wonder what was really going on in Buddy’s life and how everything really played out.
See—it looks good in theory. And, while the mystery does do well to hold the attention of the reader and keep them guessing, the end feels so off-base and out of touch with the characters that it is off-putting. I can’t truly explain it, as it would give away the ending, but it feels unjustified by the behavior of the characters. Also, there is the dialogue. Oh my goodness. These people are from Maryland, but they speak like they are upper-crust natives of Britain. Now, this might have something to do with the fact that the Farooq lives in the UK, but it does nothing for the realism of the story. Lines like, “…when we are old and decrepit and look like witches and warlocks with faces resembling an old prune,” “…he must have yearned for support from me and, alas, I was not there for him,” or, my favorite, “It’s a strange phenomenon that’s befriending us,” you feel like you were pulled right out of the story. Regular people simply do not speak to each other like this.
Another trouble that I ran into, is that Farooq’s characters have ridiculous quirks. It is a writer’s job to find things about a character that make them unique, but when the characters themselves become all about their quirks, they don’t feel real. Take Sal, for instance. Sal is Buddy’s dear, gay, crazy friend who repeats the last couple of words of a sentence after the sentence. (For instance, if I had Sal’s problem, I would say “The Sentence” after the last sentence). This is a weird quirk, and I have to imagine that the writer knew someone who did this, or else he probably wouldn’t have assigned this quirk to the character, but this becomes the entirety of all that Sal is. Their friend Eliza is the sex-pot, and that’s all that you get from them. The woman that Rick goes to for comfort, a prostitute with a psychology major is named Floozie and spouts nothing but psychological twists and turns. These are not well-rounded characters. These are cookie-cutters with so much icing that you can’t taste the cookie. And again, people just don’t behave this way.
All in all, A Magical Moment is a story that could have been much more than it ended up being. The main problem lay in the lack of realism within the characters. If the characters had felt real, the story would have had more of an impact. Unfortunately, though, the characters just barely gasp for breath, and that pulls down the overly dramatic and unfortunately un-executed story.
Sorry Mr. Farooq, maybe next time. Your descriptions are beautiful, but the prose is too flowery. Perhaps you are simply trying too hard.
For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.