As just about any parent could tell you, the business of raising children doesn’t end when they turn 18. But no one expects all of their adult children to return simultaneously to the nest — which is exactly what happens to Ginny and William Owen in Meg Mitchell Moore’s satisfying debut novel, The Arrivals.
First to descend on the couple’s tranquil Vermont home is their elder daughter, Lillian, two small children in tow, escaping from her husband’s infidelity but keeping the state of her marriage a secret. Then there’s Stephen and his pregnant wife, Jane, whose visit is unexpectedly extended when Jane (whom everyone seems to have a hard time warming up to) is placed on bed rest for the duration of the summer. Finally, there’s Rachel, the youngest, who becomes overwhelmed by a quarter-life crisis. As their kids regress, Ginny and William help them wrestle with grown-up problems while enduring the disruption of their serenity.
The novel is told from multiple points of view, always a tricky maneuver. But Moore handles the shifts in perspective with ease, nimbly evoking the reader’s sympathy for each family member (when you are in your 30s, do you really have the right to expect your parents to do your laundry and clean up after you?). All of the characters — with the exception of Jane — manage to be both achingly familiar and cliché-free. By the end of the novel, everyone in the Owen household will feel like, well, family. B+