Saturday, June 30, 2012

So Far Away

"Natalie had no answer to this question.  It was all too much to bear; the fainting, the laughing, her inadvertent insulting of Taylor. This too she would have to pay for--she would have to pay for all of it, and the price would be high."
~So Far Away, Meg Mitchell Moore
I suppose you'd call So Far Away "chick lit" (which is not my favorite term), because it's a story about girls and women, and relationships, some broken, and some just beginning.  But it's chick lit with a serious focus.  Published in 2012 by Reagan Arthur Books, this new novel by Meg Mitchell Moore centers around two main characters, Kathleen Lynch, an archivist at a library in Massachusetts, and Natalie Gallagher, a thirteen-year-old who's intrigued by the discovery of a diary of a domestic servant, Bridget O'Connell Callaghan, from County Kerry, Ireland.  When Natalie visits the library to research the life of this Irish immigrant, Kathleen and Natalie begin a friendship, slowly and tentatively.  Kathleen, a widow, is estranged from her only child, Susannah, and sees bits of her daughter in Natalie.  Natalie is the target of cyber bullying in the form of nasty, threatening text messages sent to her phone by her former best friend, Hannah, and a "popular" girl, Taylor. 

So Far Away held my attention firmly, although the cyberbullying provoked my anger and frustration. The  behavior of Hannah and Taylor disgusted me; I wondered why some girls become "mean girls" at the age of thirteen or fourteen.  (I guess it's hormonal, but why does it become intense and dangerous, in some cases?) This aspect of the story is a main focus, which upset me and made me want to hug my own teenage daughters. 

Overall, I found the book quite compelling and plausible.  Bridget's diary, read to Natalie by Kathleen's friend and co-worker, Neil, is fascinating, and was a welcome relief from the relentless cyberbullying.  I enjoyed reading about the gradually developing friendship between Kathleen and Natalie (I sensed that they would have a special connection early in my reading), and I hoped that they'd be able to help each other.  Meg Mitchell Moore is a terrifically skilled writer, and I read the novel eagerly, hoping (of course) that things would work out well for both Kathleen and Natalie. The ending of this story is excellent; matters are not tied up too neatly, but are instead resolved in a more realistic manner (this book could even have a sequel).  I'd definitely read more books by this author, such as The Arrivals (which came out in paperback in May), or future works.  

This is the second book I've read for The Reagan Arthur Books Challenge, a reading challenge I've revisited after a hiatus, hosted by Kathy from BermudaOnion's Weblog and Julie from Booking Mama.  Special thanks to Lisa for sending me an advanced copy of this book.  I took a small liberty and quoted from this novel; the final version of the book may be different from the one I read.  Your comments are welcomed, as always.

11 comments:

  1. Cyberbullying infuriates me too. This book sounds very current and compelling. I'll add your review to the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge blog.

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  2. This one was already on my TBR list, but yours is the first review I've read. Glad to see you enjoyed it.

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  3. 'chick lit with a serious focus'<-I like that.
    I agree, it's sad and shocking how bullying has evolved into cyberbullying. This book sounds like a good read Suko, great review.

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  4. This sounds like a really good book. Great review! I never know what is actually chick lit and what's not. Either way, it sounds like a good read.

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  5. As you say this sounds like a compelling read with well developed characters. Great review, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  6. This was a very powerful read for me, and I feel in love with it. It was such a haunting and cautionary tale that shared so many important things with the reader at once. What a great review today, Suko! You couldn't have picked a more wonderful book to highlight and expound upon.

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  7. I also was struck by this book, and frustrated with the "friends," but most especially the parents. I couldn't get this one out of my head, and still vividly remember the story.

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  8. I'm so sorry not having the time to read the books you reviewed ! This one too seams very interesting. Sometimes I think I'm happy no more having young children. Difficult times for them and their parents.

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  9. I've seen some really good reviews for this book but yours made me go out and put it on my TBR list! I'm curious to see how the story plays out so I'm just going to have to read it :)

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  10. I haven't read any books with the cyber bullying theme and it sounds very interesting! I'll have to add this one to my list.
    Natalie

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