The Possible World
Publication Date: 6/26/2018
My Rating: 5 Stars Top Books of 2018 A richly compelling and deeply moving novel that traces the converging lives of a young boy who witnesses a brutal murder, the doctor who tends to him, and an elderly woman guarding her long buried past. It seems like just another night shift for Lucy, an overworked ER physician in Providence, Rhode Island, until six-year-old Ben is brought in as the sole survivor from a horrifying crime scene. He’s traumatized and wordless; everything he knows has been taken from him in an afternoon. It’s not clear what he saw, or what he remembers. Lucy, who’s grappling with a personal upheaval of her own, feels a profound, unexpected connection to the little boy. She wants to help him…but will recovering his memory heal him, or damage him further?
Across town, Clare will soon be turning one hundred years old. She has long believed that the lifetime of secrets she’s been keeping don’t matter to anyone anymore, but a surprising encounter makes her realize that the time has come to tell her story.
As Ben, Lucy, and Clare struggle to confront the events that shattered their lives, something stronger than fate is working to bring them together.
An expertly stitched story that spans nearly a century—from the Great Depression through the Vietnam War era and into the present—The Possible World is a captivating novel about the complicated ways our pasts shape our identities, the power of maternal love, the loneliness born out of loss, and how timeless bonds can help us triumph over grief.
A special thank you to Scribner and #NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. . Beautifully written!
"Hauntingly beautiful... A bittersweet story full of imagination and nostalgia, loss and redemption." —Kirkus Reviews
“Every now and then I come across a book I wish I’d written. The Possible World is one of those. Liese O’Halloran Schwarz’s book is a gorgeously wrought exploration of who gets to tell the story of our lives, and who gets to inhabit that story with us.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things
“Set, fittingly, in Providence, The Possible World follows a wide cast blown far off course by their various tragedies. Like her characters, Liese O'Halloran Schwarz is both tough-minded and tenderhearted, showing how fate tears us apart and brings us together. As all Rhode Islanders know, the state motto is Hope.” —Stewart O'Nan, author of Songs for the Missing and Emily, Alone
“The Possible World is a triple threat: a novel that offers up flesh-and-blood characters, a white-knuckle plot, and perfect prose. A quadruple threat if you consider the deep emotional journey, the characters' lives intersecting and diverging in the most surprising ways. Liese O'Halloran Schwarz writes like a dream.” —Diana Spechler, author of Who by Fire and Skinny
“The Possible World is a quietly stunning novel about solitude, redemption and the mysterious threads of human connection that tie us together in ways beyond what is tangible. An unforgettable book.” —Carolyn Parkhurst, author of The Dogs of Babel and Harmony
“Deeply felt, fully imagined, and paced so wonderfully that you hardly notice its tightening grip on your imagination. I read The Possible World obsessively, and will not soon forget Lucy, Leo, and Clare, these three unlikely voyagers, delivered in precise, sharp, graceful, governed, prose. Bravo!” —Richard Bausch, author of Peace and Living in the Weather of the World
About the Author
Liese O'Halloran Schwarz grew up in Washington, DC after an early childhood overseas. She attended Harvard University and then medical school at University of Virginia. While in medical school, she won the Henfield/Transatlantic Review Prize and also published her first novel, Near Canaan.
She specialized in emergency medicine and like most doctors, she can thoroughly ruin dinner parties with tales of medical believe-it-or-not. But she won't do that, because she knows how hard you worked to make a nice meal.
The Possible World, coming from Scribner (US) and Hutchinson (Random House UK/Cornerstone) in June 2018, is her second novel.
She currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and is at work on the next book.