Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore

I immediately handed this book off to my mother as I knew she would enjoy it. It was interesting to read about grown children moving in with their parents as I am infinitely interested by family dynamics. While reading the novel I kept thinking about how the story would develop differently if the family was Jewish instead of Catholic. My mother actually called me while she was reading to exclaim: "You didn't read this closely." She was remarking on the fact that the mother felt more attached to her son than her daughters whereas my Jewish mother always recites: "A sons is a son until he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter for life." So as I mentioned there are some clear cultural differences.

I think this novel also raises some interesting questions about gender dynamics in a modern world. The mother at the heart of the novel is upset to find out her son will be staying home with his daughter and not his wife. She thinks her daughter-in-law will be missing out and doesn't seem to understand that this makes the most sense financially. Her eldest daughter (who stays home with her children) raises the point that it didn't bother her that she paid for her expensive schooling and now she is staying home with her children. It was interesting to consider how some gender expectations persist. My father was a "house dad" so it I suppose staying home with children isn't something I naturally assume I will do. And yet I can imagine wanting to.

I most empathized with the youngest daughter who was jealous of what others had in their relationships although I think we have very different personalities. At times it was hard to accept Rachel's destructive choices and yet they came across as deeply human. Sometimes its easier to run away from our problems than to tackle them head on.

I think this may be one of my favorite reads of the summer.

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