Some books take your breath away with how beautifully crafted they are, and The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore is one such book. I was a bit worried when I first picked it up that I wouldn’t be able to relate to the story, since the description spoke of kids coming back into their parents’ homes after having already grown up and I am not in a point in my life where I have children. But I soon realized that this book is about more than a parent’s task of determining where they stand in their grown children’s lives–it’s a story about family and the bonds that connect parents with their children and children with their siblings.
Due to many extenuating circumstances, Lillian, Stephen, and Rachel all come to temporarily move back into their parents’ home after many years of being on their own. Lillian, with her 2 children, faces a crumbling marriage; Stephen and his pregnant wife face the possibility of losing their baby; and Rachel has run away from her busy life in New York City to get over the loneliness of being newly single. Through it all, Ginny and William must learn how to parent their grown children and see them through the challenges that they face.
Cover and Title: The cover is perfect. William is an avid gardener, so the flowers are fitting, but I think the best part is that the house is partially covered. All of these characters are trying to define their homes, but changes (such as having children and facing a rocky marriage) get in the way of a clear definition. The title makes sense, but I think a more meaningful one could have been thought up. I like the simplicity of it, though, and I think that with so much going on in the book it would be a bit hard to utilize an abstract idea to represent it accurately.
Plot: The story moves well, there are no dull spots and I was never bored or wishing it would hurry up. The way that they book is structured flows seamlessly, allowing readers to peek into the lives of the different characters without it feeling patched together or choppy. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and was very moved by the personal journey that each character had to make throughout.
Character Development: This is one of the fundamental aspects of the story and Moore has achieved it spectacularly. Because the plot basically takes place in one location (Ginny and William’s house) the characters are what move the plot forward; it’s the personal growth of each individual that perpetuates the action of the story. Every person in this book grows, and readers can see every inch of their progress.
Larger Issues: This is my favorite aspect of this story– it speaks to so many important themes that readers face every day. Every person who picks up this story will identify with it in one way or another. The main, overall theme is that of the evolution of the family. Adapting to new roles as you grow older can be difficult, and knowing where you stand with your children or your parents is something that will fluctuate over time. But Moore takes this theme one step further and explores the evolution of the familial unit from its traditional roots to its more modern identity, something that I found extremely interesting.
Moore identifies many other cultural and personal issues that are relevant to its readers, but the one that I identified with most is that sparked by Rachel’s character. Rachel is 29 and unmarried without children, but she can hear her biological clock ticking. She was raised in a traditional household and feels the drive that has been instilled in her since birth to become a mother and make a home. Not only has the familial unit changed, but gender roles have changed as well and Rachel, like so many young women today, is facing the time in her life when she feels the pressure to conform with traditional societal expectations.
I loved this book and I highly recommend it to everyone interested in a wonderfully crafted, beautiful story about a growing family.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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