So Far Away: A Novel

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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. Adrift, confused, she is a girl trying to find her way in a world that seems to either neglect or despise her. Her salvation arrives in an unlikely form: Bridget O'Connell, an Irish maid working for a wealthy Boston family. The catch? Bridget lives only in the pages of a dusty old 1920s diary Natalie unearthed in her mother's basement. But the life she describes ...

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Overview

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. Adrift, confused, she is a girl trying to find her way in a world that seems to either neglect or despise her. Her salvation arrives in an unlikely form: Bridget O'Connell, an Irish maid working for a wealthy Boston family. The catch? Bridget lives only in the pages of a dusty old 1920s diary Natalie unearthed in her mother's basement. But the life she describes is as troubling - and mysterious - as the one Natalie is trying to navigate herself, almost a century later.

I am writing this down because this is my story. There were only ever two people who knew my secret, and both are gone before me.

Who was Bridget, and what became of her?

Natalie escapes into the diary, eager to unlock its secrets, and reluctantly accepts the help of library archivist Kathleen Lynch, a widow with her own painful secret: she's estranged from her only daughter. Kathleen sees in Natalie traces of the daughter she has lost, and in Bridget, another spirited young woman at risk.

What could an Irish immigrant domestic servant from the 1920s teach them both? As the troubles of a very modern world close in around them, and Natalie's torments at school escalate, the faded pages of Bridget's journal unite the lonely girl and the unhappy widow - and might even change their lives forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“Solace,” the characters in Moore’s touching second novel (after The Arrivals) find, “can come from unlikely sources.” Widow Kathleen Lynch is lonely and heartbroken, unable to stop ruminating on her missing daughter, who ran away as a teenager. Working at the Massachusetts Archives, Kathleen meets Natalie Gallagher, an awkward, sad 13-year-old. The girl’s parents are separated, her father distant, her mother depressed and emotionally absent, leaving her alone to fend off two relentless cyberbullies, one of whom was her former best friend. Natalie and Kathleen are brought together by Natalie’s research into family history for a school project and the discovery of an old family diary; written in the 1970s, it details the life of an Irish woman in American since 1925 and builds to a gripping secret. Natalie and Kathleen, two people in need, reach out to each other, but it takes lessons learned from the past to help them move forward. This sweet and thoughtful novel is both tense and elegiac, exploring the damage we inflict on ourselves and each other, and the strength it takes to heal. Agent: Elizabeth Weed, Weed Literary. (June)
Joanne Wilkinson
"Moore wields a powerfully emotive style, not unlike that of Francine Prose, in which she displays both deep compassion and winning humor...A beautifully told story of human fallibility and connection."
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE ARRIVALS:

"What an intoxicating read! In The Arrivals, Meg Mitchell Moore takes on the age-old topic of parents and children and their children with a fresh perspective, a canny understanding of human emotion, and the absolute best dialogue I have ever read. Both charming and deeply meaningful, this is one book you must not miss."
--- Elin Hilderbrand

"A tender portrait of a tangled, complicated, all-too real family, The Arrivals left me teary and fulfilled. A sparkling, page-turning debut."
--- Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of The One That I Want, Time of My Life, and Department of Lost and Found

"With crisp, insightful prose, Meg Mitchell Moore examines the anxieties, intimacies, wounds, misunderstandings, and joys that bind the Owen family as they face one long summer together. This lovely, satisfying story is an absolute pleasure to read."
--- Kelly O'Connor McNees, author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

"Meg Mitchell Moore's debut novel, The Arrivals, reads like the finest of guidebooks, pointing out the beauty and excitement of an untraveled place, yet simultaneously offering readers a map of their own families, with the intricacies, misunderstandings, heartbreak, and forgiveness found there. Under Moore's deft and gloriously talented hand, the best kind of story telling is woven with epiphany, and readers will emerge knowing a place so close to home in an entirely new way."
--- Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone

Laura Harrington
"Meg Mitchell Moore has taken the hot button topic of cyber bullying and crafted a story so compellingly real you will never forget her thirteen-year-old heroine, Natalie Gallagher. Moore's pitch-perfect rendering of this girl's voice is nothing short of stunning."
J. Courtney Sullivan
PRAISE FOR SO FAR AWAY:

"So Far Away is the moving story of three very different women whose lives improbably intersect. Meg Mitchell Moore effortlessly moves among a teenage cyber-bullying victim, a mother who longs for her lost daughter, and a 1920s Irish domestic with a shocking secret. The result is a powerful page-turner about love, loss, motherhood, and friendship."

Library Journal
Bright 13-year-old Natalie Gallagher is struggling to survive. Her mother is nearly catatonic from a difficult divorce. Her mostly absent dad and his girlfriend are expecting a baby. Natalie's former best friend has joined forces with a sociopathic Popular Girl whose cyberbullying of Natalie escalates at frightening speed. To escape, Natalie heads to the Massachusetts Archives with an old diary she found in her attic, hoping for help in deciphering the tragic tale of Bridget, a beleaguered Boston maid. Widowed archivist Kathleen Lynch sees in Natalie an opportunity to save another "girl in trouble," having lost her own daughter years earlier to drugs and bad friends and the streets. Natalie and Kathleen form a fragile bond that very well may be salvation for both of them—or their undoing. VERDICT Moore's second novel (after The Arrivals) takes readers on a stomach-clenching journey with two good people in terrible pain. She underlies her fresh, gripping look at a long-standing social problem with a backstory that will take less observant readers by surprise. [See Prepub Alert, 11/7/11.]—Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
Kirkus Reviews
After a mild-mannered family-dramedy debut (The Arrivals, 2011), Moore gets way more intense in a novel that mingles the stories of a cyberbullied high school student, a guilt-ridden archivist and an Irish maid in the 1920s. It's unusual for a 13-year-old to be poking around the Massachusetts Archives, especially since she's come to Boston on the bus all the way from Newburyport. But what really attracts Kathleen Lynch's attention to Natalie Gallagher is that the girl reminds Kathleen of her own daughter Susannah, who got involved in drugs and vanished just before graduating from high school some 10 years ago. Natalie's under pressure too; Kathleen sees a vaguely threatening text on the girl's dropped cell phone, and we quickly learn that Natalie is being bullied by her former BFF Hannah Morgan and Hannah's new pal, the extremely nasty Taylor Grant. Natalie's mother, who's gone practically catatonic since her husband moved out, is in no shape to protect her daughter, and Kathleen's well-meaning attempts to help backfire. A second plot unfolds in the notebook Natalie found in the basement of her family's house and brought to the Archives; it details Bridget O'Connell's experiences in 1925-1926 as a maid to Newburyport's Turner family. Moore's storytelling skills are evident as the tension builds on both fronts. Bridget suffers demeaning treatment from Mrs. Turner and winds up in bed with Dr. Turner, with disastrous consequences. Taylor's persecution escalates, and Natalie feels increasingly isolated as her mother buries herself in work, her father takes a vacation with his new girlfriend, and Kathleen is distracted by a friend whose lover is caught in the Haitian earthquake. Moore is equally skillful in capturing the class tensions of the early 20th century and the scary cruelty of teenage girls amplified by 21st-century technology. The final pages dangle a plethora of loose ends, but they're unlikely to bother readers gripped by the novel's strong emotional content.
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE ARRIVALS:

"What an intoxicating read! In The Arrivals, Meg Mitchell Moore takes on the age-old topic of parents and children and their children with a fresh perspective, a canny understanding of human emotion, and the absolute best dialogue I have ever read. Both charming and deeply meaningful, this is one book you must not miss."
--- Elin Hilderbrand

"A tender portrait of a tangled, complicated, all-too real family, The Arrivals left me teary and fulfilled. A sparkling, page-turning debut."
--- Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of The One That I Want, Time of My Life, and Department of Lost and Found

"With crisp, insightful prose, Meg Mitchell Moore examines the anxieties, intimacies, wounds, misunderstandings, and joys that bind the Owen family as they face one long summer together. This lovely, satisfying story is an absolute pleasure to read."
--- Kelly O'Connor McNees, author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

"Meg Mitchell Moore's debut novel, The Arrivals, reads like the finest of guidebooks, pointing out the beauty and excitement of an untraveled place, yet simultaneously offering readers a map of their own families, with the intricacies, misunderstandings, heartbreak, and forgiveness found there. Under Moore's deft and gloriously talented hand, the best kind of story telling is woven with epiphany, and readers will emerge knowing a place so close to home in an entirely new way."
--- Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone

Laura Harrington
PRAISE FOR SO FAR AWAY:

"Meg Mitchell Moore has taken the hot button topic of cyber bullying and crafted a story so compellingly real you will never forget her thirteen-year-old heroine, Natalie Gallagher. Moore's pitch-perfect rendering of this girl's voice is nothing short of stunning."

J. Courtney Sullivan
"So Far Away is the moving story of three very different women whose lives improbably intersect. Meg Mitchell Moore effortlessly moves among a teenage cyber-bullying victim, a mother who longs for her lost daughter, and a 1920s Irish domestic with a shocking secret. The result is a powerful page-turner about love, loss, motherhood, and friendship."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316097697
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 5/29/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Meg Mitchell Moore is the author of The Arrivals. She worked for several years as a journalist and her articles have been published in a wide variety of business and consumer magazines. She received a master's degree in English literature from New York University. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and their three children.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I couldn’t put this book down. I read for three straight d

    I couldn’t put this book down. I read for three straight days, something I haven't managed to do in a very, VERY long time. Meg Mitchell Moore's So Fra Away has three main characters, a lonely older woman working in a library archive, a teenager who goes to the archive with hopes of figuring out her family tree, and the narrator of a 1925 journal that the teenager finds in her basement. Moore weaves together three seemingly disparate stories: cyber bullying, a mother whose daughter went missing almost twenty years ago, and the haunting regrets of a young Irish immigrant, and creates a layered novel full of tension and insight and beauty. A stellar second novel (Moore’s first novel is moving family drama The Arrivals) by an incredibly talented author. I can’t wait for her third!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I couldn't put it down!

    Natalie Gallagher is a thirteen-year-old girl whose life seems to be falling apart. Her dad packed up his things and left, her mom can barely drag herself out of bed, and her onetime bff, Hannah Morgan, is now part of a group of kids who is cyber bulling her. When her English teacher assigns a project, Natalie decides to put her all into researching her family tree in hopes of standing out in a positive way.

    Kathleen Lynch works with the archives for Massachusetts. A widow who is haunted by her past, wishing she’d done things differently with her ‘missing’ daughter. Research for Natalie’s family tree is what brings the two together. Kathleen can’t help but see similarities between her estranged daughter Susannah and Natalie—but maybe she can save Natalie.

    In a search for answers, Natalie comes across an old journal of an Irish immigrant named, Bridgette. Bridgette's story seems so different than Kathleen and Natalie's. Bridgette works as a house keeper/nanny for a wealthy family in the 1920's. Yet it is her story that teaches Natalie and Kathleen timeless life lessons.

    Personally, I had no idea how all these different stories could possible come together, but let me just say wow. Just wow. Moore did an amazing job of tying everything together. I knew So Far Away was a book about cyber bulling, but the story is so much more than that.

    I had so much compassion for Natalie and I felt so awful for her. Her parents did nothing but frustrate me, especially her mother. Not only was I frustrated by her parents I could also appreciate there was much more to their story than Natalie was aware of.

    I think one of my favorite storylines was Neil; he was so under my radar through most of the novel. His character had a slow build. I really enjoy his personality and his relationship with Kathleen. I was very surprised at the end. I was literally cooking at the stove with the book in my hand! I didn’t want to stop reading!

    I was hooked from the very beginning. I wanted to know the story behind Susannah. I wanted to know all about Natalie and I wanted Natalie to be ok. I wanted Kathleen to be fulfilled and I just couldn’t put the book down. So Far Away is being added to my list of favorite books of the year!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Lilac Wolf and Stuff Review

    I'm officially a fan of Meg Mitchell Moore. She weaves tales that put you on the emotional roller coaster with her vivid characters.

    There are lots of people in this story, but only two main characters whose perspectives we get. As the synopsis states, Nat is a very sad character, getting bullied (not just cyber) while her parents are going through a divorce. Kathleen has been a widower for many years. Her young adult daughter has been missing for a few years, since she ran away. Kathleen is a very sad character as well. She really wants to help Natalie; to have a second chance to do the right thing.

    The cyber aspect makes bullying so much worse than when we were kids. I could have screamed when her mother found out about it and her solution? Taking Nat's phone and computer away. Way to punish the victim, MOM!

    How does this resolve itself? You'll have to read. I will say I think Meg does a great job keeping her stories realistic.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2012

    An interesting and new way to approach cyber bullying. The hot

    An interesting and new way to approach cyber bullying. The hot topic was a part of this novel, but not the sole center, which I appreciated. Natalie - a high school freshmen and Kathleen - a career woman who has lost both a daughter and a husband are an unlikely pair, but their relationship in this book was perfectly scripted.

    Without any chapters, this book was interesting as it switched focus between the characters with strategic spacing. Because the book switched between characters, the reader was able to get to know each character on their own turf, which made me fall in love with them in their own space. I loved that Kathleen was given the opportunity to help raise another teenager, it was so fitting that she have a second chance. At the same moment, I loved how Natalie was given another maternal figure to lean on until her mother was able to pull it together and re-enter her child's life.

    This book showed me once again that it definitely takes a village to raise a child - sometimes parents are inadequate or just not the answer to the problem that a child has, they may just need someone outside of the family to lean on through a difficult time. A great book that both showed the destruction of family, but the reconstruction of a different kind of family.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Thank you to Book Sparks PR, Reagan Arthur Books, and Meg Mitche

    Thank you to Book Sparks PR, Reagan Arthur Books, and Meg Mitchell Moore for the opportunity to review this book.
    Synopsis:
    Natalie is assigned a project by her teacher Mrs. Ramirez to do an independent project. Her teacher has left it a mystery as to what the students should do for this project. School has not been easy for her because of her former best friend Hannah cyber bullying. Natalie makes a discovery of a notebook which leads her to Kathleen Lynch a widower who works at the Archives in Boston, and is a widower. They work together on Natalie’s special project. Will their relationship grow? Will Natalie be able to solve her bullying problem?
    My Thoughts:
    Meg Mitchell Moore writes with much passion and emotion. I could definitely identify with her characters. She kept my interest throughout the book. I found her writing with relevant topics such as bullying, a child dealing with divorce, and feelings of loss. She vividly describes the feelings of the character and their surroundings. My only criticism is that the story was slow in places. I very much enjoyed this book. I look forward to reading more from this author.
    Bullying was a main theme within this book. Who hasn’t experienced bullying while growing up? Cyber bullying is much more serious than just standing up to the bully. I have thought about what my reaction would be as a parent and how I handled it as a child. I feel that parents should be involved especially with the major damage to a child’s reputation. What do you think?
    Please stop by and let Meg know what you thought of her book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2012

    A wonderful book with incredible characters!

    I love when I'm reading a book that I just don't want the story to end. SO FAR AWAY was one of those books. I wish there'd be a sequel as the characters are forever with me. I really cared about them. Ms. Moore did a wonderful job with THE ARRIVALS but her second book was even greater. I applaud her!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2012

    not the best read....

    this book could not catch my attention. i did not care about the the characters they did not "come to life" for me. the stories between the past and the present seemed disjointed. i finished reading it...but would not recommend as a good read.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2012

    What is going on with these so called reviews

    The reviews that come up look like some teen age tweets that don't even pertain to the novel

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2012

    Moon's Shadow (ShadowMoon) and Angel's Shadow (ShadowAngel)

    It seems like this clan will die out. Not very many warriors are there. I am ShadowMoon, A tom of the Dark Forest. "The tom pads out of the shadows. His pure white pelt seems to draw in every light around him, making his pelt whiter. His black eyes have malice and hatred reflected in them. Wings of white blood burst from his back. Ten foot claws shine in the light of the claw-moon." And when this clan does die out, we Dark Forest cats will claim this territory. And theres nothing you can do to stop it. "He steps aside to let another cat walk in. She is the same as him but the opposite color and power" This is my mate ShadowAngel, the leader of the Dark Forest. (ShadowAngel: Hello. and good bye.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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