So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore
Finding this title was a serendipitous surprise for me. I was at a workshop with other librarians, discussing how to help library patrons find fiction they want to read. A librarian plucked this book from the shelf and used it as an example of how to give a book talk: in other words, how to draw a potential reader in by conveying a sense of the book’s appeal, preferably using as few words as possible. Well, it worked on me. Her one-minute book talk intrigued me enough that I checked it out and took it home that day. So Far Away had three major appeal factors for me as a reader: a local setting (Newburyport!), a rich storyline involving three different women in different time periods and how their lives intersect, and a librarian as a main character. (Really, what’s not to like?)
Moore, a local author, interweaves the stories of thirteen-year-old Natalie Gallagher, living in present-day Newburyport; Kathleen Lynch, an archivist living in present-day Boston; and Bridget O’Connell, a housemaid living in in Natalie’s house in the 1920s. Natalie, dealing with her parents’ recent separation, unearths a dusty old diary in her ramshackle old house. The diary appears to have been written by a maid who lived in the Gallagher house almost a century ago. Intrigued by the diary, and eager to focus on something other than the cyber-bullying at the hands of the popular rich kids that she has been dealing with, she makes the arduous journey into South Boston (no small feat for a middle-schooler) to enlist the help of Kathleen at the State Archives. Kathleen, who has her own family secrets, comes to regard Natalie as a kind of surrogate daughter, and starts to become wrapped up in Bridget’s story herself.
Moore deftly handles a variety of issues including class, bullying, divorce, and the fierce love between parents and their children. The novel is geared toward adults but would have significant appeal for young adults as well, as Natalie is a very relatable character. If you enjoy novels about Massachusetts, the 1920s, or relationships, give this one a try.
Entry filed under: Fiction (Adult).