“This is no place for anyone with a heart.”
The Moment Collector, or The Vanishing Season as it is also called in an alternate edition, is one of the coldest, loneliest books I have ever read. Anderson seems to love themes about outsiders, isolation, growing up and not always getting what we’d hoped for – she’s already responsible for breaking my heart with the vicious but quiet Tiger Lily, and she returns once more to tell a tale about three friends and the ghost who observes them from afar.
I said forever ago that the song Peter by Daughter perfectly fit with Anderson’s Tiger Lily. Well, if that book was a song by Daughter, then this one is their entire debut album. Some of these lyrics are so perfect for the book, all cold loneliness:
Drifting apart like two sheets of ice, my love
Frozen hearts growing colder with time […]
Oh, winter comes
Oh, winter crush all of the things that I once loved. – Winter
Two feet standing on a principle
Two hands digging in each others wounds
Cold smoke seeping out of colder throats
Darkness falling, leaves nowhere to move. – Still
You only look into my eyes when I’ve been cryin’
to see if the tears that you have made are slowly dryin’
Oh, but even if they’ve dried, it don’t mean that I’m feelin ok ’cause I’m still sad inside. – Your Kisses
Did she make your heart beat faster than I could?
Did she give you what you hoped for?
Oh, nights of loveless love, I hope it made you feel good,
Knowing how much I adored you. – Love
This may also be the highest rating I’ve ever given to a book where virtually nothing happens. Despite what it may appear to be, or what the blurb tells you… this book is not a paranormal ghost story. Nor is it a murder mystery. There is no fast-paced plot, and any drama is used to create a portrait of a realistic set of relationships rather than being a tool to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. It is, in fact, a slow-moving and beautifully-written character study. It’s a coming-of-age story about love, friendship, loss, growing up and accepting what will never be. I don’t consider it a spoiler to tell you that Anderson never delivers the ending the reader wants. She delivers a hard dose of reality – her books are about the things we have to face, the loves that don’t work out.
“The living always think that monsters roar and gnash their teeth. But I’ve seen that real monsters can be friendly, they can smile and they can say please and thank you like everyone else. Real monsters can appear to be kind. Sometimes, they can be inside us.”
There is a very interesting and complex relationship dynamic happening between the three main characters in this book and I found it fascinating and really, really sad. I like how well the author blurs the line between good and bad, making it possible for characters to act in ways I don’t normally like and be bitter and jealous – but I still end up caring about them all. I feel like I must stress that this is very gentle, subdued novel and it won’t work for many readers. But I think if you enjoy books simply about people and relationships, then you might just love this. As the book tells us:
“It’s dangerous to be young.”
In so many ways.