Because the yard of this house is a graveyard of moments, and everything left behind is a reminder: sandpaper, a bracelet, a love note, some letters, a match, a movie ticket stub, a postcard. All of Door County is a burial ground. All of the world. And I am here to dig.
The story begins with Maggie Larsen, a girl in her senior year of high school, who is moving from Chicago to Gill Creek together with her parents. The difference between the noisy city life and the tranquility of their new home, a Victorian House surrounded by trees and near to the lake, is something Maggie has to get used to. But with the help of her new friends and neighbours Pauline and Liam, she soon experiences a friendship that she has never had before. Liam, a quiet young man with an interest in skilled crafts and trades, has always been in love with Pauline, the girl with a rich mother and a dead father. Pauline is quirky and skinny and afraid of making big decisions.
Although one might think that this is your typical teenage lovestory with a new kid coming to town, love triangles and crimes happening all over the area – it is not. This story is not about loudness and shrillness of colour, it is somehow tender and quiet, and the reader works himself deeper and deeper into the plot, until he is no longer able to get out of its grip, surprised about how things turned out to be – completely different from his or her expectations.
I felt very drawn towards the three main characters, their struggles and heartache felt so raw – and made it all feel so real. That there is an additional narrator whose identity is not known to either the reader or him- or herself helps to set the tone in this story. This other narrator is a ghost, wandering the grounds of Gill Creek, watching over Maggie, Liam and Pauline. Yet this ghost is not able to interfere, it can only watch and remember, whilst gathering memories and catching glimpses of a future that has already happened – until the purpose of the ghosts’ presence will be revealed. This story is about loss and love and deep friendship, of mistakes that originate from a broken heart. I liked how the characters were put together and that – beneath everything that happens in Gill Creek – you can feel that something inevitable is going to happen and that it will change the life of everyone involved.
The ending of The Moment Collector is a controversial one – either readers loved it or absolutely hated it. I think – all things considered – that the atmosphere of the book simply did not allow any other ending. The way I interpreted this story, it would have somehow felt wrong if it had turned out in a different way.
I have to admit that I would have loved to know a few more things that were left unsolved – for example who the murderer of countless young girls in Gill Creek was, or what story lay behind the Victorian Lady who lived in Maggies’ house in 1886. But honestly, I think enlightening the reader about these things is not the point of the book. I believe that the sole purpose of these elements was to create an eerie and haunted surrounding for the plot to be built upon. This atmosphere lies at the heart of this book and makes it so hauntingly good.
I turn my face away from the world. This is no place for anyone with a heart.
The Moment Collector, p. 196
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Title: The Moment Collector
Press: Orchard Books
Year of publication: 2014