Reviewed by Colleen Turner
When summer began, Ginny and William Owen were looking forward to more of the now enjoyable same: William would take long walks to the lake for ice cream and cultivate his much loved garden while Ginny would continue her book club and baking for the church sale. Peace, serenity and consistency would reign supreme. Or so they thought until the arrivals began to pour in.
When their oldest daughter, Lillian, states she is coming for an extended visit for the summer, sans husband Tom but with daughter Olivia and baby Phillip in toe, they are skeptical as to the reasons but aren’t exactly sure how to ask. She’s angry, demanding and completely exhausted but refuses to put down her guard and say what, exactly, is the matter. She can’t bring herself to tell her parents that Tom has betrayed and shamed her and that she has absolutely no idea what to do about it.
As if this wasn’t enough, the Owens’ middle child, Stephen, decides to show up for a surprise visit with his very pregnant wife, Jane. Not being a fan of Jane’s workaholic ways, Ginny is torn between frustration at having to hold her tongue about what she sees as Jane’s faults and the joy that her beloved son is home. For their part, Stephen and Jane are nervous to share with the family their plans for Stephen to stay home and care for the baby once it arrives so Jane, the breadwinner, can go back to work. Before they can escape back to New York, however, Jane experiences a pregnancy complication that sends her to bed in Lillian’s old bedroom, trapped under the watchful eyes of the whole household.
To round out this motley crew is Rachel, the youngest Owen, who has recently gone through a tangled breakup, is running out of money fast and isn’t sure what she needs or wants to do with her life. She arrives for some familial TLC but soon sees that the house is bursting at the seams and no one within it is quite sure what to do next.
As the summer progresses, each member of this family must decide who they really want to be and what sacrifices they are willing to make to be that person. No one can move on without compromising something and no decision is easy, but in the end they each discover something essential: family is the one place to turn when you aren’t sure which direction to take and they are there to help, through good and bad, whether they want to be or not.
The Arrivals does a great job of highlighting adulthood at its various and complicated stages: from the awkward child/adult limbo stage, to the nerve-wracking early stages of becoming a parent, to the warlike life of adults in the thick of raising a family and trying to retain that essence of the people they were before, to the stage where your children have left you behind and you have to let go and let them make their own choices.
I enjoyed seeing each character fighting through their own insecurities and inadequacies and their assumptions that their problems were the worst. While I can’t say I agree with all of their choices, I (and I believe just about everyone) can relate to feeling lost and confused at various times and seeking solace in the very people who often make you craziest. While The Arrivals doesn’t represent a seriously dysfunctional family, it will likely stir up memories of your own more mild family interactions and is a satisfying balm for thoughts that your own problems with family are yours and yours alone. I am excited to see what Meg Mitchell Moore offers up next.
On Thursday, November 17th, from 8-11pm EST, Meg Mitchell Moore will be chatting with her readers on the SheKnows message boards. Click here to join in – you can also leave your questions in advance!
Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.
This book was provided free of any obligation by Reagan Arthur Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.