“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)
"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."
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
"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."
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."
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
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.