2012 Little, Brown & Company
Rating: 3/5 (So-So)
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.
I loved Moore’s debut novel (The Arrivals), so I was more than thrilled to dive into So Far Away when it hit the shelves earlier this summer. The author does an exceptional job depicting the cruel and oftentimes frightening bullying of Natalie. And, I found the diary entries of the Irish maid compelling and addictively readable. However, (and it pains me to admit this) I did not love this book as much as The Arrivals. There were several loose ends and the pacing was a bit uneven. Had I not been so intrigued by Bridget’s tale, I may not have finished the novel.
On the love of dogs:
“Hello, my lady,” she said again to Lucy now. She pushed her nose into Lucy’s fur and stroked her along the sides of her face. She thought that some people who observed this ritual would think that she was crazy, to love a dog so much. But there was such peace in loving an animal. At night, when Kathleen turned off her light to go to sleep and heard the little snorts coming from Lucy’s bed, the shiftings as she settled herself to sleep, and finally the deep, even breathing, she felt truly blessed and forgot about everything she had lost. This was love, for her, now. This was the love she had.
Final Thoughts: It’s been less than a month since I finished and I’m already having trouble remembering some of the details. But not to worry--this may all be a case of poor timing. I began reading So Far Away in late May, which has never been the best time to immerse myself in a book, so I’ll definitely give Moore’s next novel a read.