Saturday, November 8, 2014
Book Review: The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Content Alert: sex, swearing, drug use
It's almost spring, and Sarah St. John is starting to emerge from the initial fog of grief that surrounded the death of her only son, Cully, who died in an avalanche on New Year's Eve while snowboarding with friends in their hometown of Breckenridge, Colorado. She's back at work (doing a broadcast to the upscale hotels about the city's amenities, a job she now finds silly), and she's fighting with her best friend, Suzanne, and her father. One day, a girl named Kit knocks on the door and asks if she can shovel their deck, and her arrival breaks open the conceptions Sarah had about her son, and forces her to analyze the life she wants to live in the future.
The Possibilities is the first time I've read one of Kaui Hart Hemmings's novels. Her first novel, The Descendants, was made into a lovely movie with George Clooney and Shailene Woodley, and while I was grabbing this photo from goodreads, I scanned the reviews. Many reviewers felt that the novels were too similar (the mother is dying in The Descendants, and the secrets of her past come to life while she is lying in a coma). But grief is a complex thing, and I think the grief of losing a child is probably quite different from losing a spouse or a sibling. There's a pretty significant turn in the plot I don't want to reveal in the review, so I feel like I'm talking around things, but I do love the way that Hemmings helps us see someone who has been grieving for months and is starting to see things worth living for again. She also makes the city come alive in the story, and explores the culture of the permanent, longtime residents of vacation towns in a way that was fascinating to read.