The Arrivals: A Novel
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Ginny and William Owens have grown comfortable in their "empty nest". Their youngest child moved out 5 years ago. They enjoy their quiet times, Ginny volunteering at church, William reading his newspapers and working in the gardens. A nice relaxing life.

Then their daughter Lillian arrives for an unexpected "visit" with newborn baby Phillip and 3-year old Olivia in tow. Husband Tom is "home, buried in work."

Then a few days later Stephen arrives with his pregnant wife Jane for a short weekend visit. Stephen is going to be the stay-at-home Dad when the baby arrives and Jane will return to her high pressure, high paying job just 3 short weeks after the baby is born.

Daughter Rachel is not far behind, her life is crashing around her both financially and emotionally as her boyfriend leaves her. She needs some time at home to sort things out.

Ginny and William's empty nest is soon overflowing with family and their entire summer will be disrupted as their children are all facing very difficult issues. The days of a kiss, a hug, and a band-aid are long over. They have put the parenthood hats back on the help their children as only parents can.

I LIKED IT!!!!

Life as a parent never ends, whether your kids are 2 or 62, until of course the parent is no longer alive. Part of being a parent is to always be there for your children, no matter what they are facing.

This is a wonderful debut novel depicting modern family life and problems, bringing a family together to cope, learning responsibility and forgiveness and how to survive life today in this fast-paced world.

I must say William and Ginny showed so much patience as their home was overtaken by their children but I can say that is what parents do today. A lot of children are living at home longer or moving home just because with this economy they can't make it on their own. It doesn't even have to be the problems this family faced. It is hard for young people to make it on their own today and a lot of them stay longer than a summer.

This story was nicely paced, the characters were very relate-able, and I really liked the dialogue between all the characters, very well written. The story is interspersed with humor and wit that makes the story even more real and enjoyable.

This would be a great summer beach read. Another perfect "escape" story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Hachette Book Group.. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Meg Mitchell Moore's debut novel offers the reader a good study of a family with complicated needs.

Life in Burlington, Vermont seemed peaceful to retirees William and Ginny Owen. Then, their eldest daughter, Lillian, informs them that she and her two children, ages three and newborn, are coming to their home and that she needs some time away from her husband.

She doesn't admit that her husband had just slept with his assistant at a company function.

Overnight the sereen life at home became chaotic and complicated. Even more so when the Owen's son Stephen and his wife Jane arrive without warning. Jane is seven months pregnant and both Stephen and Jane need a change of pace from their home in New York.

Once again, the family shows resilience but a situation develops and the couple's intended weekend stay must be extended.

The family seems to accept the problems that are handed out but it is a definate challenge to the idea of life that the retirees thought was their due, even when their youngest child calls for help.

The Owen's family's personal journey through the turbulent time is well described with humor and empathy with each child needing nourishment from their parents in different ways.

William and Ginny realize that being parents bears responsibility that continues after the children leave home. The fact that the children have a safe place to go to when things are not going well is a lesson for all parents.

The characters and the setting is well described and the novel basks with fine literary flavor. The chaos was a bit long for me but the novel was enlightening and enjoyable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2011
The Arrivals is one of those books that you can't put down -- you turn the page eager to see what happens next; at the same time, you never want it to end. I fell in love with this family, and with each character -- each rich with personality and authenticity. Moore's dialogue is sharp and insightful, vividly capturing the dynamics of modern family relationships.

This book is one of the best family stories I've ever read!
Buy this book and share it with your family.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2011
I really, really wanted to like this book. I am a grandmother and there is so little fiction written that addresses life topics for mature people. The basic story line of this book was good. The fact that it addressed the problems of all the characters at different stages and situations in life was good. But the characters had such petty, selfish personalities I could not enjoy them. I know there are plenty of people like that, but I don't like spending my time with them, in life or in a book. I had hoped that by the end of the story they would have redeemed themselves. But what little they did, did not make up for the rest of the book.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2011
I was thrilled when, as a part of writing a piece on the author for a local publication, Meg offered me the opportunity to read an advance copy of The Arrivals, and here is the email I sent her after finishing it: (note, I removed references to key plot pieces]

"I got into bed at 10:30pm and told myself I'd only read a little bit, but damn you are good! I couldn't put it down, until I finished, and it is now well after midnight. My heart was in my throat while [...], and Ginny's insight about [...] - brilliant! My cheeks are still wet, you are an amazing writer."

Meg's story of the Owens family coming back together under one roof for a summer, is engaging, genuine, and thought provoking. I could personally relate to Lillian and her exhaustion at being a mother to a three-year-old and an infant. But it is seeing life and motherhood through Ginny's eyes that is sticking with me; it gave me new insight into my own mother's perspective and how the role of mother changes, yet stays the same as children grow up and head out on their own. The conversations throughout the book are thoughtful, deep and real.

Meg nails it! I can't wait for everyone else to enjoy it as much as I did.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
We all cannot wait to have children. Then, we cannot wait for those children to begin to grow and we look forward to school activities and sports games. Then, they hit puberty, and we cannot wait for them to outgrow it. Next, comes high school graduation and we look forward to sending them off to college and having the house all to ourselves once more. After college graduation, we send out into the world, to fly away - or so we hope.

We blindly think that now life for us will begin once again. There is a quiet house where we can now hear ourselves think. We discover new hobbies and rediscover each other.

THEN, the inevitable happens! One by one, these grown birds that flew away, begin to return to the nest of origin.

That is what "The Arrivals' is all about. Not one, but three siblings return home for various reasons one summer and parents and children must find a way to cope with each other and setting boundaries.

It is a heartwarming story, but not an easy story. This family, thru trial and error, heartache and laughter, learn about each other in the season of their lives. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it for yours.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
One of those unique books about the workings of families that makes you want to call your own and tell them how much you love them! With different reasons to return home, three adult children find themselves all under their parents roof with their own kids in the mix. The drama quickly follows!

I am intrigued by birth order and how that affects families. As a first born, I easily related to Lillian and her quest for perfection, no matter what situation she found herself in. The other character that struck a chord with me was the mother, Ginny. I could see my mother in her or her in my mother - it made this book even better than I could have imagined.

I love family dramas, but this one was above the rest because the drama wasn't over the top - it was pitch perfect. Each reader can see a characteristic from their own family in this one. This book was my first by Meg Mitchell Moore, but I am already a huge fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2012
Meg Mitchell Moore's THE ARRIVALS is a stellar debut novel in the tradition of Stewart O'NAN, Anne Tyler and Alice Hoffman, a novel about the importance of family and the bitter truths children learn only when they're grown. THE ARRIVALS is the story of a Vermont couple, Ginny and William, who have all three of their grown children return home during the summer of 2008. Oldest daughter Lillian brings home her infant and three-year old after discovering her husband's infidelity; Middle child Stephen and his successful wife come for a visit before her child is born, and youngest daughter Rachel leaves her overextended New York City life at the end of a love affair and medical emergency. All three and their literal and figurative baggage bombard the silence Ginny and William have settled into. Instead of mining the situation of an overflowing empty nest for comedy Moore prefers to examine the bonds of family, and the novel is much better off. I discovered so many truths in the novel and, though they may not be 100% flattered, saw my parents in Ginny and William. The complications that arise over the summer (the novel is divided into June, July and August) are all believable, some with obvious solutions and some that may never be solved. The tension never resorts to melodrama and the few outside members of the family that Moore pens add to the portrait of an ordinary family facing what ordinary problems (or more to the point, not "out of the ordinary"). Some characters are more sympathetic than others, and some more fleshed out, but the book's arch is a solid one and benefits from Moore's perfunctory prose. I recently enjoyed Jean Thompson's family drama THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME, and THE ARRIVALS adds to the recent canon of family literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
Reviewed by Kate
Review copy provided by SheKnows Book Club

I was very interested to read this story, as our three girls have just recently left for college...what do I have to look forward to? While the premise of this story is a good one, and at first I loved it, I found that the author tried to tell too many stories at one time, and didn't allow the reader a chance to really feel anything for any of the characters. This story should have been a character driven plot, as the action of the plot was almost non-existent. There were several different things happening to many different people, but the story didn't give any character a real chance to tell their story.

Most of the characters, as mentioned, didn't really have a chance to be fleshed out. The parents were non-intrusive as to why their eldest daughter shows up with her two small children and parks on the den's sofa. The three-year-old Olivia sounded more like a seven-year-old with her speech patterns, and the only time she really acted like a three-year-old is when she went off to pout. The mother felt threatened by her son's wife, and didn't know how to handle her, so was constantly criticizing, which seemed a bit out of character. You wonder why the priest was still a priest. The only character that I had any real feelings for was Rachel, the youngest child, who was 29 years old and feeling like a failure.

The author's style was also a little choppy as well. While reading the story, it was sometimes hard to distinguish between that was going on at the moment and what was flashback. The author tried to give the back story in the middle of a conversation (several times) and that affected the flow of the conversation. It seemed that the author was more into the flow of the story near the end, but then it was time to wrap it all up rather quickly and get all of the children out of the house at the same time. I didn't really get the sense of "the family gains new ideas of loyalty and responsibility" - they just stumbled upon resolutions quickly and off the kids went and the parents were left with a quiet, and clean, home once again.

The Arrivals was an adequate read with no real depth of character, a small plot and choppy storytelling. I wouldn't be able to recommend it to any group of readers. There is no one strong element of the story that would make it perfect for any one group. There was no romance in it, just problem after problem, and then a quick resolution. Is it telling that the book has the year 2008 in it, but was not published until 2011?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2011
Who says you can't go home again? Just when William and Ginny Owen should be "empty-nesters," enjoying their golden years in their Burlington, Vermont home, the tranquility is shattered when all three of their adult children return to the nest, each bringing with them their own set of problems. Lillian, the oldest Owen child, is a married, thirty-something mother of a three-year-old daughter and a three month-old son, and has returned to the safe harbor of her childhood home on what her parents think is just a brief respite from life in Massachusetts.

What William and Ginny don't know is that this little visit might be longer than anyone anticipated. Lillian has recently learned of her husband Tom's affair with his sexy, young assistant. She needs to get far away from Tom and the whole situation, and perhaps maybe garner some much-needed sleep; her children, Olivia and Philip, occupy every minute of her day and night. Stephen, the second Owen child and only son, has come to pay an impromptu visit with his workaholic wife, Jane, who is seven months pregnant. He figures that once the baby comes, quick, unplanned visits like this will be a thing of the past. He also is ruminating over recent plans for Jane to return to work after three weeks' maternity leave, and he will stay home and care for the baby --- an arrangement he's not quite sure he's on board with.

But when Jane is taken to the local hospital in Burlington and then ordered to stay on at the Owens on bed rest until the baby's birth, all those worries are replaced by the more pressing issue of keeping Jane and the baby safe. Not to be left out, youngest daughter Rachel flees her hectic life in New York City to descend on the family home, despite being relegated to sharing her old room with her three-year-old niece, Olivia, on a slowly deflating air mattress. Rachel has fled the city and the remnants of a devastating breakup, a frenzied job as a casting assistant, and a further complication she did not expect. Where else to go but home, where they have to take you in, right?

For Ginny, the overcrowding at her home is bittersweet: "In the moment, you were often too tired to enjoy watching your children turn into people. It was such a busy time, so demanding. There was always somebody with a science project due the next day, always a lesson or a practice to get to, always a meal to cook or a stray mitten to find...And then suddenly everyone had cleared out, flung themselves into the big world, two of them to New York City, Lillian to Massachusetts, calling, sure, e-mailing often, even visiting, but they were gone, truly gone, replaced by the silence --- beautiful and blessed, of course, but still, sometimes, she had to admit, strange and unnatural." Her husband William has an easier time of it, preferring to lean into the chaos rather than fight it.

Meg Mitchell Moore's charming debut is a loving and honest look at the ties that bind (and gag, to quote the late Erma Bombeck). No matter how old you get, how much money you make or how many promotions you've gotten, home is where you find comfort, advice and your true self --- the one the real world of work, kids and money might have battered a bit. As trying as family can be, where would we be without them? Stephen reflects on his unruly clan: "He wanted them! He watched as they arrived and took over the room: His wonderful, messy, imperfect family." It's never too late to come home again.

--- Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller
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