The Possible World by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz
eBook review copy; 368 pages
The Possible World by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz is a highly recommended emotional novel that deals with loss and the bonds between people.
In Providence, Rhode Island, a six-year-old boy, Ben, witnesses the
aftermath of a brutal multiple murder, including that of his mother,
while at a birthday party. When found alive and uninjured in the
carnage, Ben insists on being called Leo, but otherwise remembers
nothing. He is traumatized and almost mute. The police are hoping he can
remember something about the crime, but for now he is sent to the
pediatric psych unit.
Dr. Lucy Cole is an emergency room doctor who checked Ben over when he
came in and later realizes that he is the son of a colleague who was
murdered. She is perpetually overworked and dealing with turmoil in her
personal life. Lucy finds herself thinking of Ben and continues to visit
Clare is an elderly woman living in a nursing home. She is lucid and
doing well, but she is about to turn one-hundred-years-old. Clare has
carried her life story and it's many secrets for a long time, but may
finally feel like it is time to tell her story to a new resident.
The Possible World is well written and the characters are fully
developed and complicated. The narrative rotates between the main three
characters, Ben, Lucy, and Clare, and later a fourth, a young boy from
Clare's past named Leo. The thoughts, emotions, and the lives of these
people are explored and revealed, culminating in a reunion of sorts. It
is a very compelling novel and will hold your attention throughout.
I had two qualms with the novel. The first is the myriad of ER details
Lucy shares. This make sense, she is an ER Dr. as is the author Liese
O'Halloran Schwarz, but I wasn't reading this as a medical novel and
soon grew a bit weary of all the ER action. Readers are also required to
believe/accept the idea that reincarnation is real and that Ben used to
be a boy named Leo. It felt too contrived for me to totally accept this
plot pretense and the final scene. However, the quality of the writing
is never in dispute.
My review copy was courtesy of Scribner.