Author: Meg Mitchell Moore
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books (Little, Brown and Company)
About the book: Thirteen-year-old Natalie Gallagher is trying to escape: from her parents' ugly divorce, and from the vicious cyber-bullying of her former best friend. She discovers a dusty old diary in her family's basement and is inspired to unlock its secrets.
Kathleen Lynch, an archivist at the Massachusetts State Archives, has her own painful secrets: she's a widow estranged from her only daughter. Natalie's research brings her to Kathleen, who in Natalie sees traces of the daughter she has lost.
What could the life of an Irish immigrant domestic servant from the 1920s teach them both? In the pages of the diary, they will learn that their fears and frustrations are timeless.
So Far Away is an affecting story of mothers and daughters and how solace can be found in the most unlikely places.
My thoughts: This book didn't really grab me in the beginning. I remembered that when I read her debut book, The Arrivals, that I felt the same way about the beginning, but eventually really enjoyed it, so I decided to stick with So Far Away. I am not sure when the change happened, but I suddenly found that I could not put the book down. I had to see what happened both in the present and the past.
There was a couple of stories going on here - Kathleen and her "lost" daughter; Neil and Adam and their baby adoption saga; Natalie and her relationship with her parents and friends; and Bridget, the Irish immigrant from the 1920's. It was almost like the author happened upon this group of people and took a snapshot of a few months of their lives.
What I mean by this is that it could be your next door neighbor's story, or the lady in the supermarket, or maybe even yours. You don't get a nice neat ending at the end of the story either, but just the closing of the curtains on their lives. It is with the understanding that life will go on, with more experiences and changes, and that this was just one moment out of life.
I don't know which story I found more compelling - Natalie and her efforts to deal (or ignore) the cyber bullying that she found herself to be the center of, or Bridget and her tragic past. It would be very cool to stumble upon an old diary and realize that you were the keeper of some secrets from the past, and that you might be the only one still alive who knew what those were. I did like the way that the author was able to tie the two seemingly unrelated storylines together - but you will have to read the book to see how she does that!
I will continue to read books my Meg Mitchell Moore, but I have to remember that she draws me in slowly and not to give up on her books! This is another book that I would recommend for book clubs - there is a lot of discussion material here about the proper ways to mother, how much influence we have or should have in our children's lives, cyberbullying, and even gay couples wanting to be parents.
About the author: Meg Mitchell Moore is the author of The Arrivals and the forthcoming So Far Away. She worked for several years as a journalist. Her work has been published in Yankee, Continental, Women’s Health, Advertising Age and many other business and consumer magazines. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and their three children.
~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Book Sparks in exchange for my unbiased review.~
Publisher/Publication Date:Reagan Arthur Books, May 2012