Having read and loved Christopher Meeks’s short stories, I had high hopes for this debut novel, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Presented as a collection of nine stories that follow Edward Meopian from his awkward teenage years well into adulthood (ages 14 to 45, to be exact), The Brightest Moon of the Century is, at turns, hilarious, heartbreaking, and hopeful.
I loved this book from the opening pages. The characters are real and recognizable in a way that few authors are able to capture. Meeks sees their humanity and presents them, warts and all, with great sympathy and understanding. And I loved the narrator’s voice and his understanding of Edward’s experiences. Take this description of 14-year-old Edward, for instance:
At Eastbrook Junior High School, Edward Meopian was not a wallflower but more like a hearty, imperceptible weed…he came across to most people, certainly to himself, as something of an ottoman or sofa: existing and acceptable.
When Edward transfers to a private school, his self-consciousness and concerns about making a good impression and fitting in with his more affluent peers are spot-on and exemplary of the worries all teens face in some form. When he finally gets a girlfriend, his awkard combination of earnestness and teenage boy horniness lead him to tell his girlfriend, who he’s brought to a drive-in movie on a very cold night,
We’ve been going steady for almost three seasons now…because I love you, I want to show you. Maybe we could do more than kiss....
With great clarity, and insight, Meeks captures Edward’s adolescent awkwardness and adult pain with equal skill and grace. He explores the full spectrum of human emotion, from the intoxication of first love to the devasation of heartbreak, and he takes Edward from the teenage crisis of identity to the middle-aged search for meaning. As one of his characters realizes,
Beneath all the entertainment in our lives was the fear and wonder of our stay on this planet.
This idea is the heart and soul of The Brightest Moon of the Century, and Meeks’s uniquely keen ability to find the beauty in all of life’s moments makes this a book not to be missed.
(For the full and much longer review, click on the link below.)
Causes Christopher Meeks Supports
Associated Writing Programs