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09 December 2009

The Possibility of Everything by Hope Edelman: Book Tour and Review

Title: The Possibility of Everything
Author: Hope Edelman
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publicattion Date: September 15, 2009
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN: 978-0345517012
Genre: Memoir


About the book:
From the bestselling author of Motherless Daughters, the real-life story of one woman’s search for a cure to her family’s escalating troubles, and the leap of faith that changed everything for her. In the autumn of 2000, Hope Edelman was a woman adrift, questioning her place in her marriage, her profession, and the larger world. Feeling vulnerable and isolated, she was primed for change. Into her stagnant routine dropped Dodo, her three-year-old daughter Maya’s curiously disruptive imaginary friend. Confused and worried about how to handle Maya and Dodo’s apparent hold on her, Edelman and her husband made the unlikely choice to bring her to Mayan healers in Belize, hoping that a shaman might help them banish Dodo-and, as they came to understand, all he represented-from their lives. Examining how an otherwise mainstream mother and wife finds herself making this unorthodox choice, The Possibility of Everything chronicles the magical week in Central America that transformed Edelman from a person whose past had led her to believe only in the visible and the “proven” to someone open to the idea of larger, unseen forces. A deeply affecting and beautifully written memoir of a family’s emotional journey, it explores what Edelman and her husband went looking for in the jungle-and what they ultimately discovered-as parents, as spouses, and as ordinary people-about the things that possess and destroy, or that can heal us all.

My Review:

The Possibility of Everything is a brilliant memoir filled with such lyrical and descriptive prose the reader is immediately transported into the world of Hope her husband Uzi, and their 3-year-old daughter Maya. Hope tells her family's story with such a pure voice the reader truly cannot help but feel for her as a mother, wife, and friend. The memoir weaves a timeline from their home in California, beginning in September 2000 and ending with their Christmas trip to Belize in December 2000. While the Hope struggles with her role as wife, writer, and mother, her daughter invents an imaginary friend, Dodo. The appearance of Dodo rapidly begins to bring havoc and terror into the home. The story is not simply about a family struggling with how to help their young daughter, it is one of a woman learning to accept becoming a woman and mother without her own mother's help as well as the tale of a marriage brought closer by a seemingly simple vacation.
Hope Edelman manages to capture the reader's attention from her first sentence and holds the reader until the very last word. A novel of courage, faith beyond understanding, and unwavering love, The Possibility of Everything, is a definite must read.

About the Author:

Hope Edelman holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and a master’s degree in English from the University of Iowa. She is the author of five nonfiction books: the international bestseller Motherless Daughters (1994), which was translated into seven languages; Letters from Motherless Daughters (1995), an edited collection of letters from readers; Mother of My Mother (1999), which looks at the depth and influence of the grandmother-granddaughter relationship; Motherless Mothers (2006), about the experience of being a mother when you don’t have one, from HarperCollins; and The Possibility of Everything (2009), her first book-length memoir, set in Topanga Canyon, California, and Belize.
Hope has lectured widely on the long-term effects of early parent loss. She has appeared on national and local television throughout the U.S., including the Today show and Good Morning America, and has also appeared on TV and radio in Toronto; Vancouver; London; Sydney; Melbourne, Australia; and Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, New Zealand.
She began her journalism career with a part-time job at Outside magazine, and soon after interned for three months at the Salem Statesman-Journal in Salem, Oregon. Her first full-time editorial job was at Whittle Communications in Knoxville, Tennessee. From there, she went on to the University of Iowa, earning a master’s degree in creative nonfiction writing in 1992, one of the first of its kind.
Since then, her articles and essays have appeared in numerous publications, such as the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, the Dallas Morning News, Glamour, Child, Parenting, Seventeen, Real Simple, Self, The Iowa Review, and The Crab Orchard Review, and many anthologies, including The Bitch in the House, Toddler, Blindsided By a Diaper, and Behind the Bedroom Door.
She is the recipient of a New York Times Notable Book of the Year designation and a Pushcart Prize for creative nonfiction. Nearly every July you can find her at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival in Iowa City, and periodically at other conferences and festivals throughout the U.S.
Hope plays piano and guitar (sort of); cooks a mean French Toast; and has discovered an unexpected aptitude for sixth-grade math. She lives in Topanga, California, with her husband, their two daughters, a fat cat named Timmy (”No, Mom, tell them he’s buff!”) and their pet tarantula, Billy Bob.

Hope Edelman’s The Possibility of Everything Book Tour ‘09 began on Dec. 1st and will end on Dec. 16th as part of Pump Up Your Book Promotion’s 12 Days of Christmas Virtual Book Tour Special. You can visit Hope’s blog stops during the month of December to find out more about this great book and its talented author.

I received a copy of The Possibility of Everything by Hope Edelman from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour. Receiving a copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



Veens said...

I can definitely feel how difficult it is to be a mom in such conditions! Great review, and I will keep this book in my wishlist!

Michele Paiva said...

Wow, you sold me. I am going to be ordering this book. I am in dire need of "heart warming" after just losing three people close to me (within two months)...looking forward to this read...
Thanks for an illuminating review.

Sky said...

I read this book after hearing Hope's interview on the Manic Mommies Podcast.

It's an excellent, excellent read! I'm really excited to see that you've read it and liked it...finally a book that we've both read! LOL

Great review Knitty!

Lisanne624 said...

Hate to be a downer, but I thought this book was just preposterous. A four year old starts throwing tantrums, and rather than giving her a time-out, the mother quickly jumps to the conclusion that the child is possessed (as you do). Honestly! And not only does she take the child to a "witch doctor," she takes a seriously ILL child (with a high fever when they leave) on the trip and even drags her along on some sightseeing trips where (surprise, surprise) the child throws even more tantrums. Naturally, when the child throws a fit in public, the mother again doesn't try to deal with the child's behavior, but glares at anyone who dares to look over at the out-of-control scene.

Just ludicrous! Save your money on this one unless you are in need of some serious eye-rolling exercise . . .

Jennifer-Eighty MPH Mom said...

This book sounds very interesting...I just might have to check it out. Thanks for the review!

Jennifer said...


Not everyone will like the same novel, which is one reason there are delightfully so many to choose from.
You are entitled to your opinion and I respect your opinion, however, I never once said I thought Maya was possessed. Please do not add beliefs of mine that were never there to begin with. Thank you for reading my review of a book you quite obviously did not enjoy.


Sky said...

I'd like to add, that as parents (mothers?) we all want to do what is best for our children. I think it was very courageous of Hope and Uzi to "think outside of the box".

Personally, I don't believe Maya was "throwing tantrums". Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

I came away from this book with an appreciation for this mother doing what she felt was right.

Lisanne624 said...

Jennifer, I never meant to imply you said the child was possessed. I've read the book -- if the author isn't suggesting "Dodo" is an evil spirit that needs to be exorcised, then what is Dodo? That was my take on it.

I agree, there are certainly books out there for all tastes! That's what makes it so fun when you find a great one! :)

Hope Edelman said...

Thanks for your review, Jennifer, and for your support for writers and books!

Thanks as well to those who are interested in reading it. I hope you'll enjoy taking the journey with us, and learning some about Belize and the healing practices that exist there.

As for Lisanne's comment, well, I can't say I haven't heard that one before. There's a certain kind of mother who believes in parenting in a different manner than my husband and I did...and that's fine. We're all entitled to our own approaches with our own children. But I never try to impose my philosophy on other parents in my book, and have found it curious that a small but vocal minority of readers nonetheless feel entitled to publicly criticize my choices and assert that they know what would have been more appropriate for a child they never observed or met.

Every mother tries to do right by her child, and I believe we need to be if not supportive, than at least tolerant of other parents' decisions. What looks "preposterous" to one mother can nonetheless be helpful to another, and while I personally think that putting my troubled daughter in a time-out for her tantrums would have been a preposterous and thoughtless act--as did the professionals who actually observed her at the time--if it works for another mother and her child, I would not condemn that choice. Perpetuating these useless Mommy Wars doesn't benefit anyone, least of all our children.

Just to clarify, my daughter was not four when her problems began. She was two, and had just turned three when we went to Belize. Also, I was not at any moment in the story "convinced" my child was possessed. That's someone else's interpretation of events. I questioned that point of view all the way along, and still do--which I frequently point out in interviews.

And Lisette's comment neglects to mention there is a history of mental illness in my family, which factored in to my decision and definitely upped my concern. Childhood schizophrenia, though rare, can first manifest with a negative "imaginary friend" and while I don't believe that's what my husband and I were facing, we did find that chilling.

I can see how another mother might question my sanity--I question it myself throughout the book, as I did throughout those months!--but I nonetheless stand by the choices I made back then, unorthodox as they were. I've since been called overanxious, over-reactive and (my favorite) a total nutcase. But to me, the proof is in the outcome. Our whole family was healed by the journey, and my daughter, now 12, is absolutely fine. Better than fine, actually: curious, creative, well-behaved, and deeply respectful of and thankful to the people and place that helped her when she was three.

Thanks for reading all this--I felt you all deserved some clarification. And if you have any more questions, I'll be happy to check back in later in the day to answer them. In the meantime, a very happy Wednesday to all--