Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Possible World

The Possible World by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz
Scribner: 6/26/18
eBook review copy; 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9781501166143

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 him.

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.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Scribner.

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