So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore – Book Review

So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore
Published by Reagan Arthur Books, an imprint of Hachette

From the publisher:

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.

So Far Away doesn’t have quite the emotional impact as Moore’s debut novel, The Arrivals. There is a bit too much going on, too many storylines for the reader to become involved in without them being tied together quite closely enough. Even so, Moore is an incredibly talented author, and So Far Away mainly suffers only in comparison to her phenomenal debut. One particularly affecting theme is Kathleen’s obsession with girls in danger, following the disappearance of her own daughter. Natalie’s story is also emotionally involving; her experience of bullying rings very true. Bridget’s story in the diary is actually the weak point, the contemporary stories are strong and there is something for everyone to relate to, because of the strength of Moore’s characterization.

Although the historical/diary storyline could have been stronger, the strength of Moore’s contemporary characters still makes this a book worth reading.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
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10 comments to So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore – Book Review

  • Wow, it sounds like Natalie has a lot to deal with. I look forward to reading this book. I added a link to your review to the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge blog.

  • I really enjoyed this book and found that I just was so heartbroken for Natalie each and every time she had to deal with bullies and absent parents. It was my first time reading this author, so I’m looking forward to The Arrivals next!

  • Anonymous

    What a timely subject! It seems cyber-bullying is everywhere these days ):
    I want to check this out now. It sounds like a great read.
    Thanks for reviewing this!

  • Meg

    I always appreciate your support, Jen! Thanks for reading SO FAR AWAY.

  • I was so impressed with this book, and felt like it was such a haunting look into the world of cyberbullying, I also felt that historical bits were a little less interesting, but the main story was fascinating and very moving. I would love to read more from this author, and think I will be looking for The Arrivals when I can. Great job on this review today!

  • It’s such a small world… I was looking at the new books table in my favorite local bookstore today and this book, and The Yard, were the two books I made note of to read next1 Looking forward to both.

  • What a compelling story that touches on a topic that needs to be talked about. I’m actually in love with the book for the cover alone, but I’m wondering if this could be a book that mixes in historical fiction, but not too much, that I could really enjoy. Thanks for the review.

  • Historical fiction aspects of books are generally my favorite part, so I’m sorry to hear that was the weak part. But I love the idea of the book!

  • I thought Kathleen and her story was the most compelling part of the book, so I guess that shows that there is a good balance among the three main storylines and that different readers will appreciate different aspects of the novel! I’m not an historical fiction reader, but the diary format made Bridget’s story quite compelling. (BTW, I linked to your review when I finally posted mine yesterday.)