First, their daughter Lillian arrives, with her two children in tow, to escape her crumbling marriage. Next, their son Stephen and his pregnant wife Jane show up for a weekend visit, which extends indefinitely when Jane ends up on bed rest. When their youngest daughter Rachel appears, fleeing her difficult life in New York, Ginny and William find themselves consumed again by the chaos of parenthood - only this time around, their children are facing adult problems.
By summer's end, the family gains new ideas of loyalty and responsibility, exposing the challenges of surviving the modern family - and the old adage, once a parent, always a parent, has never rung so true.
The Arrivals, by Meg Mitchell Moore
Reading group guide
- The Arrivals deals with three generations of family: grandparents, adult siblings, and the children and babies of those siblings. With which of the first two generations did you identify most strongly? Why?
- Referring to the amount she is depending on her parents, Lillian says to Rachel, “I have children. I need more help. Different help. It’s a whole different world, once you have children.” Is this a true statement? Why or why not?
- Jane’s summer is overshadowed by the impending financial crisis, which is threatening her job. How does your knowledge of what is going to happen to the country as a whole at the end of the summer of 2008 change the way you viewed Jane as a character?
- Talking to Lillian about her job, Jane says, “I’m happiest when I’m there.” At different points in the book, various characters worry that once Jane has a baby the world will judge her for her devotion to her job. Ginny thinks Jane can’t be a good new mother and a good professional at the same time. Are these concerns valid? Why or why not?
- Was your reaction to Stephen’s plan to be a stay-at-home father similar to the reaction of his parents? If so, why are we still holding on to those ideas?
- Ginny and William vacillate between embracing their children and grandchildren and feeling overwhelmed by the disorder they bring into the house. Do you think this summer will affect the way they view themselves (and each other) as parents and grandparents?
- How does Rachel and Olivia’s relationship shift during the course of the book? How do you think that relationship will change Rachel when she goes back to her life in New York City?
- The concept of forgiveness figures prominently in the book. How does Lillian’s friendship with Father Colin help her to forgive Tom’s infidelity? Discuss which other characters need to forgive one another, why, and how they go about it. Does anybody fail to forgive?
- When Olivia goes missing, Lillian berates herself for being a bad parent. Is this feeling justified? Why or why not?