review · U.S. · USA Fiction Challenge

The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings

interestingsThe Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Simon & Schuster, May 2014

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.

I picked up the latest novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings because I loved the movie version of The Descendants. I’ve been reading a lot of non-crime novels this year in my quest to avoid burnout, and while I don’t write about all of the non-crime books I read, this one deserves special mention.

What stuck out most about this story was the tone: it’s a quick read with slightly absurd humor, which is not what I expected in the story of a mother grieving the recent death of her son in an avalanche accident. Hart Hemmings gets the weird feelings that hit you at different times when you’re grieving, and the horrible and funny things that you say as you’re trying to cope. Sarah is in her early forties living in Breckenridge Colorado, hosting a type of infomercial that plays in resort hotel rooms, and living with her widowed father and spending time with her friend Suzanne who’s coping with divorce. There’s one more main character in the story whose identity I won’t call out in this post because I believe it’s best to go into this story blind.

Hart Hemmings is good at dialogue and getting relationships right in the short time frame of this novel, and I’m not surprised that this is being made into a movie. My only quibble with the story is that every once in awhile a line of dialogue seems just too perfectly insightful, but it’s not an egregious problem– and it’s an issue I have with lots of books.

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9 thoughts on “The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings

  1. This sounds interesting; the writing sounds good. I am glad you wrote about it. I did not know of this author, even though I have heard of the movie, The Descendants. I don’t know if I could read a book about a mother’s loss of a son. Just thinking about it makes me tearful.

  2. That’s always a problem with dialogue – if it’s too realistic, then it can be dull, but if it’s too polished, then it loses realism. A hard one for writers to get the right balance.

  3. I don’t know about reading a book about this kind of loss either. When I see the news of terrible killings of children, I feel so much for the parents. So I don’t think I need this in fiction, which for me is a distraction from the real crimes and tragedies in life.
    But it’s a reminder for me to read other types of books, i.e., humorous ones, to get out
    of the brutality and violence in crime fiction. That’s been causing burnout for me, too.
    Now if I had a Sara Paretsky or Fred Vargas, I could deal with those as there is wit.
    And I finished Donna Leon’s By Its Cover, which does have a murder or two, but is
    very interesting and led me to learn more about Venetian book printing in the early
    1500s.

    1. Thanks for reminding me to get to a few more Donna Leon books I’ve had on my shelves for awhile (I’ve only read one that was published in the last few years).

      I have to admit that sometimes I seek out books that will make me weep, and I’m not entirely sure why. I had to stop reading The Fault in Our Stars several times because the funny parts made the sad parts especially sad. And when I don’t want a crime novel or something sad, I tend to dig around in the list of classics I haven’t read.

      Hope you find something funny to read soon, Kathy 🙂

  4. I’m reading The Red Road by Denise Mina, which is gritty as they come, but so-o-o-o good. Mina just keeps getting better and better, as good a writer about the human condition as they come, and some of its horrors. I probably need a comedy or some light dvd’s after this one.

    1. I have Garnethill looking down on me from my TBR, Kathy: I’ve heard lots of good things about Mina and am looking forward to it. Now if I could find more time to read!

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