Author: Meg Mitchell Moore
Published: Reagan Arthur Books; May 2012
Synopsis: 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.
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.
My Take: If you want a book that will take you through some serious emotions, then Meg Mitchell Moore's latest novel So Far Away is what you are looking for. Honestly, when I read the synopsis, I liked the fact that it jumped around in time a bit and the main characters were trying to figure out a bit of a mystery it seemed. Now as the novel played it, it turned into so much more.
The two main characters are Natalie and Kathleen. Natalie is a thirteen year old who is having a really hard time lately. Her parents have recently separated and her best friend has become her biggest enemy and started to bully her. Natalie seems so sweet and just needs someone to help her because she is really still just a little girl but her parents are too busy dealing with their own crap so she is totally floundering. One day she finds a diary that interests her so she makes her way to the National Archives which is where she meets Kathleen.
Kathleen works at the Archives and has problems of her own. Her daughter Susannah was a run away when she was a teenager and years later they still haven't reconnected. The heart ache from 'what she might have done' just keeps looping through her head. So naturally when she sees Natalie, a young girl so clearly in need of help on the level of more than just deciphering what's in a notebook, she reaches out.
However, the notebook contains a fascinating story in itself too. It is the story of a young Irish maid in the 1920s from the same town as Natalie and she had, let me just say, quite the story to tell! As these two come together to read the story and grow closer they will help each other in other ways as well.
So yes, it is quite the sweet story. It is not sappy but it is heartbreaking and touching to read. I would definitely recommend it to all of those looking for a great summer read with a little more substance!
Cover Lust: I LOVE this cover! It makes me feel like I am right where Bridget, the Irish maid must have worked. I find it one of the more evocative covers I've seen in a long time.