THE POSSIBLE WORLD by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz


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A young boy loses his mother to a violent crime and struggles with his own identity in the aftermath of tragedy.

Dr. Lucy Cole is slugging her way through another night on call in the emergency room when the police bring in a 6-year-old boy they'd rescued from a crime scene. The boy calls himself Leo, and he can’t remember anything about either the crime or his life prior to that evening. As Lucy attempts to assess whether the blood covering the boy is his own, she feels a startling connection to the child. She soon discovers that Leo’s real name is Ben, and his mother was among the victims murdered that evening, leaving him an orphan. The story then shifts perspective, and the reader is introduced to Clare, a woman of almost 100 who lives across town in a nursing home. Clare is surprisingly lucid and independent for a woman her age, and a new resident of the facility named Gloria is driving her crazy with constant requests to record her life story. It quickly becomes apparent that Clare has something to hide. As the story unfolds, the perspective continues to shift among Lucy, Ben, and Clare, each character slowly revealing more about his or her past. Lucy can’t shake her interest in Ben and continues to visit him in the pediatric psych ward. The doctors believe Ben has dissociative identity disorder, but Lucy begins to wonder whether the boy actually used to be a person by the name of Leo, literally in another life. In hauntingly beautiful prose, Schwarz weaves a complicated story that spans nearly a century, from the Great Depression until the present day. Brimming with emotionally difficult moments and an enviable understanding of human nature, the novel will seize readers from the first scene and hold tight until its satisfying conclusion.

A bittersweet story full of imagination and nostalgia, loss and redemption.

Pub Date: June 26th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5011-6614-3
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2018


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