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Pure Fiction: A review of Arrival…and Other Books

Review of the book Arrival

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I’ve been reading a lot lately, which feels great. One thing I miss now that I don’t have nursing babies is my reading time. I can’t even estimate how many hours I logged reading while nursing babies…the forced need to sit and be still for ten minutes every couple of hours meant I had plenty of time to read. I still read, every day, but it is harder to carve out the time now.

A few weeks ago we went to the library and I picked up four (four!) books for myself. It felt so luxurious. So far I’ve read three.

I started Wild Mama first and was disappointed. It was basically a memoir about a reluctant mother who found time to still take solo hikes, camping trips, and adventures after motherhood while leaving babies and husband behind. Basically, the author and I have very little in common, so I found it hard to relate. But hey, you might love it.

Next was It’s Not About the Broccoli, a great book on raising good eaters (click here for more picky eating resources).

Now here is the book I want to focus on for this post…

I was so excited to read Arrival.

I have seen the previews to the movie and this is one I plan to watch when it comes out on Netflix. As I’ve said before, I read very little fiction, but if I watch a movie based on a book, I always want to read the book first. I didn’t even know Arrival was based on a book until I saw it in the library. I grabbed it immediately and was really excited to read it.

The book started out slow. I didn’t particularly enjoy chapter one, The Tower of Babylon…I’m not a fan of books that need to go back to the beginning of time to lay out their plot, but it’s a common enough way to begin a book.

The plot picked up speed in the next chapter, entitled, Understand. This chapter followed a character who achieved super-human intelligence and it led to surprising places. Cool.

Chapter 3, Division by Zero, was also a fun chapter to read. It explored the idea of what might happen if a mathematician discovered a formula that changed his/her entire perspective on the world.

In chapter 4 (out of eight chapters) Story of Your Life, the aliens (as portrayed in the movie trailer) finally arrive. Ah, now things were getting good. Since I majored in Linguistics in college, I particularly loved the parts where they discuss learning the language of the aliens.

The next chapter, Seventy-Two Letters was where things began to fall apart for me.

I can deal with going back to ancient times to set up a plot. Artificial intelligence and mathematicians…all make sense in the context of a book about alien visitors. But this chapter? I was unable to see any connections between it and the previous chapters. Not to mention I was over halfway through the book and the author had not yet drawn the characters and various plots together.

What was going on?

This made me look a little closer at the book I held. And then I noticed this at the bottom, originally published as Stories of Your Life and Others. Others? As in more than one? A quick search on Amazon (remember, I picked this book up at the library) led me to a very embarrassing conclusion. The book, Arrival, is a book of short stories.

Yes, my friends, I made it fully halfway through the book before I realized I was reading short stories. And all those “connections” I had made between the chapters? Pure fiction..fiction I had made up in my own mind.

All this led me to believe:

I need more sleep (we are in the middle of using a bedwetting alarm on one of our kids).

I may be going crazy.

I now need to go back and read every chapter as it was intended…a stand alone story.


If you need me, I’ll be in the corner alone rocking back and forth…and reading my book of short stories.




  1. Sally Chancellor

    Lol, thanks for the confession, I needed that 🙂 I was going to go check out Arrival, but our library doesn’t have it :/ I may do an inter-library loan, though, because now I’m very curious!

  2. Jennifer

    I think I’m quite the opposite. I like to read the book after watching the movie. This way I can love the book & still enjoy the movie! Lol. I miss nursing babies too. Reading now feels like a guilty pleasure. I’m trying to read a few books this summer too, Lost & Found by Kendra Fletcher from Preschoolers & Peaceas well as Homeschooling In Real Life (HIRL). I’m also reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. I’m just a few chapters in, but really enjoying it. Enter your Space bags & ZipLock bag post here! Lol.

  3. Tanya Redfield

    Reminds me of years ago, pregnant with my first child, reading a book about infant care as I struggled to stay awake. So I was reading all about breastfeeding when a line from the book struck terror in my soul…”If the nipples become clogged, dip them in boiling water and use
    toothpicks to clear the holes.” Imagine my relief when I found I had moved on to the section about bottle feeding…..

    • Renee

      Oh my goodness…the “use toothpicks to clear the holes” sounds far worse to me than the boiling water…I’m still cringing.

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