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So Far Away

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  840 ratings  ·  200 reviews
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. ...more
Hardcover, 322 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Reagan Arthur Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Joe Lee Providing resolutions isn't the same as good writing. It's actually closer to bad writing, if you think that literature should mirror life. Writing…moreProviding resolutions isn't the same as good writing. It's actually closer to bad writing, if you think that literature should mirror life. Writing should help you understand (wake up to) the world around you. That's why I thought this book was so good -- it makes the reader aware of the lives of people who are worth caring about.

The great British writer Penelope Fitzgerald once said, "I have remained true to my deepest convictions -- I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities which I have done my best to treat as comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?" You can see here that Fitzgerald is not trying to provide answers or resolution; she is hoping to highlight truths about the lives of people she sees around her.

I think Meg Mitchell Moore's book is faithful to Fitzgerald's idea. Months after I read it, I still kept thinking about the lives of Kathleen, Natalie, Carmen, and even Lucy (Kathleen's border collie). That's the most you can ask from any novel, that long after you've read it, its characters live on in your mind.(less)

Community Reviews

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Lyndz
The main and most central theme of this book is bullying and its ramifications. Anyone who is considering reading this should know this right up front.
For some reason or another, I thought this book was going to be about this neato mysterious old diary, and watching the characters as they discover the history and story behind the diary. While this did happen, to some extent, it was definitely more of a side note. The main theme is bullying.

Why do I say bullying is the central theme?
The lady who
...more
Rosie Gutmann

Mini-Summary: A lonely archivist, Kathleen Lynch, emotionally scarred by the loss of her own husband and daughter, befriends a teenage girl, Natalie Gallagher, who is struggling with the divorce of her parents and cyberbullying from girls at school. This unlikely pair comes together through mutual interest in a mysterious diary written in the 1920s by an Irish nanny, Bridget Callaghan, who has secret struggles of her own.

Some Thoughts (Spoiler-ish, fair warning):
I won this ARC in a First Reads g
...more
Stacy
This story had such great potential, with 3 separate stories being woven together. One of those stories comes from a tall, skinny yet beautiful 13 year old girl whose mother is nearly non-existent, her father is busy finding someone else to love and her best friend has become one of her cyber bullies. Another part of the story is an older lady who has 'lost' her only child, and then the third comes from a very old book found in a basement. I was intrigued, because I love that concept of finding ...more
Dawn
I impulsively snagged this from the library this Saturday morning. Despite laundry, housekeeping and beginning the colossal job of packing to move into our new house, I finished it this afternoon.

Moore is an author I was not familiar with but she's definitely on my radar now. This story just kept moving. It wasn't thrilling, or action packed, yet so compelling.

Kathleen works in a archives library in Boston. Years ago, her daughter Susannah ran away after Kathleen confronted her about suspected d
...more
Chris Spiegel
The lives of three women; a teen deeply affected by modern-day cyber-bullying, an early twentieth century Irish immigrant servant girl, and a middle aged archivist, are spun together in a story that transcends time. Moore’s ability to craft a meaningful and poignant story, while developing characters that seem to speak directly to the reader on so many levels, is astounding. I have not been so transfixed by a book in a long, long time. Upon finishing So Far Away I immediately special ordered a c ...more
Jennifer
Oh, how the blurb for this book deceived me. I thought it would be flip flopping back and forth in time telling 2 different stories. And, while you do have a subplot involving the diary of a woman from the 1800's, it is only the impetus to move the present day story along.

I found this book highly depressing. And the storyline involving cyberbullying was incredibly anxiety provoking, in my opinion. It felt to me like so many other contemporary women's fiction where the characters are floating thr
...more
Alex
Hm. So I won an advanced readers copy of this book for the purposes of reviewing, I imagine.
I got about a page in and already knew-- the characters would be irritating. More on that another time. The two mains are dealing with harsh realities: one has a junkie daughter God-knows-where and the other has recently divorced parents-- dad's got a new girlfriend and mom doesn't even get dressed these days. The way the author approaches the mindsets of each just seems rather... shallow.
Also, the author
...more
Susan O'brien
So I really wanted to like this book based on the description. And most of the book, it was good. Well written, plot seemed promising, empathy for the characters. But somehow the tempo of the book threw me. Maybe there was too much going on? Too many competing story lines, too many foundering characters, so much pain. But I will say this ... I stayed up past my bed time to finish it last night. So there is something about this story that you want to see to the end. For me, I needed to make sure ...more
Stephanie
I really enjoyed this book. I was intrigued by the main character of Kathleen, an older lady with no family, an interesting career at the Massachusetts Archives, and struggling to accept that her teenaged daughter ran away. I empathized with the secondary character of Natalie, a (different) teenaged girl who is the victim of increasingly escalating cyberbullying. I admire that Kathleen interjected herself into Natalie's life and made her actions count. I aspire to make such a difference. This bo ...more
Erica
Ehhh, this one just didn't do it for me. I had a difficult time getting over many of my pet peeves such as the recurrence of a word throughout a sentence or paragraph, poorly-formed sentence structure that made me halt and re-listen to figure out what was really being said, and character cluelessness. These things often get in the way of my ability to enjoy a story and this time was no exception.
I found Kathleen to be a loathsome character, though I'm not sure that was the intent. I was shocked
...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Originally posted here.

I make no secret of my affinity for books about libraries and librarians. If I see that it's about a librarian, I will add a book to my to-read list, except maybe the romance novels, and, should I spot one of those at Goodwill, I would probably by it, later forcing my friends to listen to a dramatic reading, because that's just the kind of person I am. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I requested this because of the word 'archivist' in the description, because I think otherwise I w
...more
Lilac Wolf
From Lilac Wolf and Stuff

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 r
...more
Kelly Hager
So Far Away is the story of three women (well, technically, two women and a teenage girl). Kathleen works at the Archives and is missing her only child, Susannah, who ran away years ago. Natalie is dealing with cyberbullying (victim, not perpetrator) and is looking into her ancestry. The third, Bridget, was a servant in the 1920s. Natalie finds her journal and brings it to Kathleen. So...what connects these three people?

I wanted to read this book because now anything that contains a journal will
...more
Kristin (Kritters Ramblings)
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
...more
Drew Hamilton
The premise set forth on the cover led me to believe that this was a book about exploring the life of woman from before our narrators' time. This was pretty much misleading. The whole novel played out like a "ripped from the headlines" made-for-TV Lifetime movie.

First, our narrators:

Natalie - She is the only character in the book worth rooting for. Her struggle against the cyber-bullying felt real and was heartbreaking. Natalie, like some many other kids of the post-90s era, has access to all ki
...more
Sharon
I loved The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore. I think I loved this book more. Something about her books resonates with me. This is not a happy book but it is a hopeful book. It is the story of a friendship between widowed Kathleen and cyber-bullied 13 year old Natalie. Natalie finds a diary in the basement of her family home of an Irish immigrant. The bullying storyline was so disturbing and made me grateful my daughters were in school before the age of texting and You Tube. I felt for Kathleen go ...more
Alyse
I received this book as a GoodReads First Read - and I LOVED it. I enjoyed so many aspects of this book. The length was perfect - long enough for character development, but not so long that I got bored. The characters themselves were diverse and the situations realistic: a mother "losing" her daughter to drugs and the wrong crowd, a gay couple going through the international adoption process, a high school freshman being bullied and losing a best friend, a mother dealing with depression after a ...more
Sapphire
I picked this book hastily from my local library's "staff picks" section, and am rather glad I did. The story drew me in instantly and I finished the book in a day. There were times where the characters were rather annoying and parts where I just wanted to slap Kathleen across the face for being so... naive despite her age and life experience. There were other times when the relationship between Natalie and Kathleen seemed rather creepy, but others where it made perfect sense that Kathleen cared ...more
Abigail
I was not impressed with this novel. I found it interesting enough to keep reading, but I can't say much more for it than that. The main character (a 50-something woman) is unlikable and difficult to relate to, and the other major character (a teenage girl), while being more sympathetic, is not much more engaging. The story-within-the-story is difficult to believe, and the connections the author tries to draw between the characters are unlikely at best and downright implausible at worst. Perhaps ...more
Diane S.
When I first started reading this book I thought that though it was well written that nothing very much was happening, but this is one of those books that slowly but surely draws you in and keeps you there. The characters were wonderful, they became the people who live down the street from you, they were so very human in their failing, their problems and their lives. They tackle real crises, the same ones we all have to face every day, the challenges we try so hard to overcome and it was these c ...more
Siobhan Fallon
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 Far From Home 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 missin ...more
Margaret
This book had quite a lot going for it, but it fell flat for me.

Thirteen year old Natalie wanders into the library in a downpour in the middle of a school day and makes her way to Kathleen who works in the archives department. Natalie is trying to piece together her family history from some notes her dad had made. There isn't much to go on and Kathleen is suspicious of Natalie's behavior and sketchy answers to her personal questions, but Natalie reminds her of the daughter she hasn't seen in at
...more
Donna  Happy Booker
The slow pace and effortless flow drew me into the story and unfolded the characters lives and personalities bit by bit while also entwining them all together. Overall enjoyable read, nothing outstanding one way or another but definitely a story you can relax with.
Mary
Mar 10, 2015 Mary rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: drama
This book with such a promising premise (13 year old girl whose parents have recently separated bonds over an old journal she found in her basement with an archivist whose daughter is missing) was a disappointment. Leisurely plotting introduces the girl and the archivist and their backstories, as well as the journal writer and a few secondary characters. Once we are invested in their stories, the book comes to a somewhat hurried ending with no real resolution for any of the characters and withou ...more
Mary Beth
The cover, comments from other authors and title of my edition are quite misleading, as I was expecting sort of a mid-century coming of age saga, having not read the jacket info. Essentially, this is a story about bullying (online) and how a young girl tries to escape a difficult situation by researching her family history is befriended by an older archivist chased by her own demons. I didn't get the point of weaving in the side story of a distant relative's fall from grace - the combination did ...more
Courtney
This is a book that centers around 4 main characters. Kathleen works at the Archives and has been very lonely since her husband died and her daughter ran away. She meets a girl at the Archives named Natalie who is also very lonely because she is the victim of bullying at her school by her former best friend. She discovers a journal written by a woman named Bridget who may or may not be related to Natalie. The journal brings together two lonely people and gives them hope for a deep friendship in ...more
Marvin
In this young adultish (though not classified as such), social issue novel about cyberbullying, the author managed to make me care deeply about the two main characters: Natalie, a 13-year-old girl who's being bullied by classmates as her mother suffers from depression after her husband left them; and Kathleen a 57-year-old women who manages the reading room at the Massachusetts State Archives and who helps Natalie with an independent study project--an autobiographical notebook written by her gre ...more
Kris Irvin
This book sucked out my guts, dissected them, and handed them back on a silver platter.

Okay that may be a little extreme.

But really, wow. This was an excellent novel. I loved the characters and they were all so very, painfully real. Especially Natalie. I just can't even.

The subject matter is hard to read. Personally, it made me glad that I just-missed cell phones/personal websites when I was in middle school, because I dealt with some serious bullying but at least it wasn't cyberbullying. Goo
...more
Annie Smidt
I have the utmost respect for novelists. Envy even. And I know they're people, with feelings. So, I don't really like writing reviews that find fault, especially with a book so obviously earnest as this one.

Like others, I picked this up because there were key words in the blurb that hit my stodginess hot buttons: archives, servants, immigration, historical parallel narrative... that sort of thing. I know it's silly, but when I read the blurb, I was picturing the story would be set at the Boston
...more
Jencey/
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 B
...more
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Meg Mitchell Moore 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 received a B.A. from Providence College and a master’s degree in English Literature from New York University. The Arrivals is her first novel. Her second novel will be published by Reagan Arthur Books in ...more
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