The Arrivals, Meg Mitchell Moore’s debut novel, is a quiet book without a lot of drama or action, but a satisfying one nevertheless. The Arrivals is about the summer when sixtysomethings Ginny and William find that their three adult children, Lillian, Stephen and Rachel, have all converged on their serene Vermont home. Lillian is escaping her troubled marriage, with her three year-old daughter and infant son in tow; Stephen came for a quick weekend with his pregnant wife, but complications have put her on bedrest, trapped in the house; and Rachel is adrfit in New York City after a breakup.
I liked The Arrivals. It’s about family relationships and the changing dynamics that are introduced when children become adults and grandchildren and spouses enter the picture. It’s also about unconditional love from parents to children, and how that love can be tested and reaffirmed over time. Again, this isn’t a dramatic book; I read some complaints on Goodreads that not much actually happens. That’s true, but it didn’t bother me. The book was more about the smaller moments – almost vignettes – that make up a summer shared by too many people in the same small space. It was very realistic.
I liked this quote from the almost-end of the book:
[Lillian] recognized that they were all battling – all of them, everyone in the family – to have their needs met. Ginny, William, Rachel, Stephen, Jane, all of them. Even little Philip. Clashing, every day, primal forces pitted against one another.
In a lot of ways, that’s what big family gatherings can be – battles to get individual needs met, and the corresponding disappointments and resentments when they are not.
I am impressed that The Arrivals is Meg Mitchell Moore’s first novel. Her writing is assured and smooth, and the book flowed nicely. I recommend this one to fans of domestic fiction – it’s an easy but satisfying read.
FTC disclaimer: this was one of my purchases from The Strand, bought with my own cash.