Audiobook Review: THE POSSIBILITIES by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Format: Audio; 9 hrs, 30 mins
Narrator: Joy Osmanski
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★

In the idyllic ski town of Breckenridge, Colorado, Sarah St. John is reeling. Three months ago, her 22-year-old son, Cully, died in an avalanche. Though single, Sarah is hardly alone in her grief. Her father, a retiree, tries to distract her with gadgets from the QVC home shopping channel. Sarah’s best friend offers life advice by venting details of her own messy divorce. Even Cully’s father reemerges, stirring more emotions and confusion than Sarah needs. Still, Sarah feels she is facing the stages of grief – the anger, the sadness, the letting go – alone.

Barely ready to face the fact she will never again hear the swoosh of her son’s ski pants, or watch him skateboard past her window, Sarah is surprised when a strange girl arrives on her doorstep. Unexpected and unexplained, she bears a secret from Cully that could change all of their lives forever.

Kaui Hart Hemmings highlights the subtle poignancies of grief and relationships in this stunning look at people faced with impossible choices in the wake of a tragedy. With the unsentimental and refreshingly wry style famous for presenting trouble in paradise in The Descendants, Hemmings in The Possibilities considers the difficult questions of what we risk to keep our loved ones close.

THE POSSIBILITIES is a poignant story about coming to terms with loss, working through grief, and finding the strength to move on. The main characters in this book are mourning the death of Cully, a young man who was their son, grandson, and friend. His mother Sarah, in particular, is grieving the loss of his future possibilities, and she’s become stalled in her own life. Then, a stranger comes into Sarah’s idle existence who will jolt her awake once again.

I enjoyed listening to this book. Kaui Hart Hemmings has an engaging writing style, and her characters are genuine, flawed, and easy to sympathize with. Given the conflict that the stranger brings, the plot could have gone in a cheesy and improbably direction, but luckily the author didn’t let that happen. The characters’ emotions, reactions, and ultimate decisions felt realistic to me.

This book was narrated by Joy Osmanski, and I thought her performance was excellent. Her portrayal of Sarah and what she was going through was moving. She also did a great job creating distinct voices for the other characters, especially Sarah’s father, Kyle. He was the comic relief for this emotional story.

THE POSSIBILITIES made me want to cry at times, but there were also many funny moments when I laughed out loud. Definitely an engrossing read (or listen) that will stay in my thoughts for a while.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.