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The Possibility of Everything

3.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  629 Ratings  ·  171 Reviews
From the bestselling author of Motherless Daughters, here is the real-life story of one woman's search for a cure to her family's escalating troubles, and the leap of faith that took her on a journey to an exotic place and a new state of mind.

In the autumn of 2000, Hope Edelman was a woman adrift, questioning her marriage, her profession, and her place in the larger world.
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published August 31st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,513)
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Aug 25, 2009 Rachel rated it did not like it
I had a hard time with this book. I felt Ms. Edelman was an over-anxious mother making a mountain out of a mole-hill. Yes, when it's your child that is going through something, everything seems like a big deal; but it was hard to read about it in this book. I kept thinking, if she is so worried about her daughter, why doesn't she just get rid of the nanny, the daycare/pre-school, and spend more time with her being her mother! Young children today are too scheduled and farmed out - as mothers, ou ...more
Snow Ford
Aug 21, 2012 Snow Ford rated it it was ok

I mostly believe in the saying "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all", but there are a few things I need to share about Hope Edelman's book, The Possibility of Everything. In this memoir recounting her family’s experience of going to Belize to exorcize her 3 yr old daughter of the imaginary playmate "Dodo", Edelman says she thinks there are two types of mothers. Those who trust and those who do. She pegs herself as one of those who "do", a tinkerer always trying to f
Aug 16, 2009 Margie rated it liked it
Recommended to Margie by: GoodReads
I won an advance review copy of this book via GoodReads giveaways. The book will become available in September 2009.

If I could give three and a half stars, I would. The strength of Edelman's writing is evident in the fact that I was engrossed even though Edelman herself (as a character in her own story) drove me bananas. My parenting style is so different from hers, and there were so many points in the story where I felt like yelling, "You idiot! Why would you do that?!?", that a lesser writer w
Jan 02, 2014 Barbjo rated it liked it
I bought this book for Kindle after hearing the author speak on a local public radio show. The show is kind of new-agey, so I should have known what to expect. In reality, there was another book featured on the show that I'd wanted to buy, but it wasn't available yet, so I settled for this one.

I spent the first half of the book constantly aggravated by the author/narrator's myopia as she agonized over her three-year-old daughter's imaginary friend. She seemed like one of those overly-anxious, ov
Aug 08, 2009 Gena rated it really liked it
The letter from the publisher that was enclosed with this advanced reader copy entreated me to suspend my disbelief for a while. It also should have told me to stop thinking how I would've handled the situation, and just go with it.

I truly enjoyed the parts of the story that were focused on their sometimes difficult but always loving family dynamic, their interactions with the other travelers and the beautiful people of Belize, and I sometimes felt voyeuristic reading what felt like the pages of
Sep 06, 2012 Deb rated it it was ok
Ugh. The only thing that saved this book was the details provided about Belize and the Mayan culture. Hope Eddleman is hopelessly neurotic and self indulgent. Unfortunately, she also chose to read the audio version and it was just as whiny as I imagine her to be in real life. She is part of the mommy subculture who do Waldorf school (only to brag about it), have play dates with celebrity moms (only to brag about it), and have a nanny (all the while whining about how much time being a mother stea ...more
Jan 14, 2010 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, travel
I listened to the audio version of this book, which is wonderfully read by the author herself. The story was so engrossing that it was difficult to get out of the car when I'd arrive at my destination!

Edelman reminded me of so many modern, rational, well-traveled and highly educated American mothers who approach parenting as a project for which one can do extensive research, consult the right experts and feel prepared for anything life throws at you... Very much the approach I've taken myself,
I loved this book not only because I could relate on many levels (the trials in parenting and marriage, dealing with one's own skepticism and reality, being in a constant state of healing from early motherloss), but because Hope Edelman is just a great writer. She's honest and funny, and not in a "trying to be really funny" kind of way. I loved the pace of the story, as well-- I dig the details and the how's and why's. The trip to the Mayan ruins was so friggin' detailed, I felt like I was trudg ...more
S. Harrell
Jul 07, 2010 S. Harrell rated it liked it
I really wanted to get into this book and enjoy the author's journey to finding more to Life. As a shamanic practitioner, I am very interested in stories of modern mystics, considering the lack of tribal support, and I am equally drawn to the tribeless who seek them for healing. Given that, I never felt drawn into the story. I wanted to feel the passion of her journey, but all I felt was her insecurity, anxiety, doting worry. This is a modern woman's "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," though not nea ...more
Cindy Meilink
Aug 19, 2009 Cindy Meilink rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-books
I began the book on Sunday and finished on Monday, so perhaps that gives you some idea of what I thought of the book.

This is the first book I've read by Hope Edelman, and it won't be my last. Some so called "memoirs" are written solely because the author thinks he/she has something that everyone will want to read about and are written without regard for how it will be received by the reader. Words are flung about without form or function and the result is a flat narrative that puts the reader to
Oct 13, 2009 Glenn rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, first-reads
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. The memoir is about a husband and wife who have a daughter named Maya who starts acting out after acquiring an imaginary friend named Dodo. Most of the book centers around their travels to Belize for vacation in late 2000 when Maya was 3 years old and they decide to visit a shaman to see if he can help her.

I don't know how to feel about this book. At times I wanted to tell the mother she was trying way too hard and that her daughter Maya would eventually grow
May 12, 2011 Terri rated it liked it
If this rating system would allow, I would have given this book 3 1/2 stars. This book was a quick read for me. The writing was smooth and kept my interest throughout. I couldn't put it down because I was dying to know how Maya would end up as well as how Hope, Maya's mother and the author, would evolve. Or if she WOULD evolve. I didn't know much about the Mayan's before reading this book other than their calendar and how advanced their civilization was. I learned a great deal more about their s ...more
Beth Anne
Aug 14, 2009 Beth Anne rated it liked it
Recommended to Beth Anne by: Goodreads Giveaway
a goodreads win, continuing my streak of exceptional advance copy reads.

i was extremely engrossed in this book, from page one straight through to the end. i found the story of this families' trials and tribulations due to a newly discovered "invisible friend" of Maya, the 3 year old daughter, very intriguing. i was immediately surprised and taken aback by what the parents thought the invisible friend really was, and the decisions that both parents made to release their family from it.

what i fou
Julia Smillie
Oct 08, 2009 Julia Smillie rated it liked it
When Hope Edelman's three-year-old daughter develops an imaginary friend who has a dark impact on her behavior, the pragmatic Edelman and her decidedly more spiritual husband embark on a vacation to Belize -- where they take their daughter to see a Maya shaman in the hopes of healing her.

It would be easy to dismiss this whole journey out of hand: "Take a child to a shaman for an imaginary friend? Nuts!" What makes this book so riveting, though, is Edelman's brave honesty about her own inner conf
Jun 07, 2010 Terry rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Mmmm... I think some of the aspects of this book were very interesting, especially the parts about "alternative" healing, so anyone with an interest in that might like this book. But you'll have to wade through a lot of complaints about how hard it is to be upper middle class. *cough* I feel also that Edelman was pushed to make the book longer, and so there are E X T E N S I V E swaths of history of Mayan pyramids that didn't seem connected to the point of her book. I also have to say that her d ...more
Aug 13, 2009 JillRock rated it really liked it
I was fortunate to win an advanced reader copy of this book through

The story is about a mother's quest to rid her daughter of her imaginary friend through whatever means necessary, even if they are unconventional, to say the least. It reads as part memoir, part travel diary, and part spiritual guide. While I went into the story with my defenses up (seriously? a spiritual healer to get rid of an imaginary friend?), the book quickly appealed to the new mother in me. It had me questi
Sep 04, 2010 Debra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Debra by: goodreads win
I found this book hard to get into, possibly because I'm past that stage of having small children to raise. Also, I don't think I would ever take my child to a shaman in Belize to find a cure to get rid of an imaginary friend. The Mother seemed to make all the problems worse by the way she reacted to them. There is a lot of detail about the Mayan pyramids which I think could have been excluded since it didn't add anything to the story. It was interesting to hear about alternative ways to cure ai ...more
Jennifer Louden
May 16, 2014 Jennifer Louden rated it it was ok
I took a writing class from Hope Edelman once many years ago and liked her immensely but the woman who shows up in most of this memoir I found myself seriously disliking. I skimmed most of the book just to find out what happens at the end, which did redeem the story for me to some extent. I learned so much reading this about what not to do in a memoir - I don't think there was enough of "ordinary reality" first so the weird behavior of her daughter Maya both didn't feel scary to me but more like ...more
May 13, 2016 Sarah rated it it was ok
pg 73: "I believe the world is governed by polarities and paradoxes," he told me, "some that we can see, and some that we can't. Some we know about, and some we can't even imagine yet. We think polarities are there to create divergences, but really they exist to create dynamicity. And that's only a piece of it. To think we already know all there is to know or that we can see all there is to see, that's just our egos speaking. That's arrogance speaking. We know only a tiny speck of what there is ...more
Sep 02, 2014 Elizabeth rated it liked it
While I find the topic...weak...on which to base entire book, I was still intrigued and zipped right through this one. It's lively and real, not at all navel-gaze-y, which helps draw you on to find out what happens to Maya.

I, personally, have no trouble believing in alternative medicine; I *want* there to be an element of magic or whatever that I don't understand and can indeed hardly be understood in this physical world. Herb-lore is as old as history, probably older, and well accepted for phy
Shae Adele
Jun 04, 2014 Shae Adele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Started and stopped this book numerous times over two years before reading it practically straight through in the last few days (with occasional breaks to eat and sleep). When I first attempted to read it, I also thought Hope to be a little neurotic - the kid has an imaginary friend, what's the story - until some life experience left me feeling significantly more connected to and empathetic toward the characters. I loved the chunks of history regarding Maya culture/mysticism and the book left me ...more
Jennifer Rolfe
Oct 07, 2014 Jennifer Rolfe rated it really liked it
I did find the first quarter of the book was too slow moving. I would have liked more of Hope Edelman contemplating what she had witnessed in her daughter and more of what she experienced. She declared she was in no way part of the 'new age' movement but I felt she could have explored her own intuitive response to Dodo (this imaginary friend) as I believed that she and her husband were aware of the negativity emanating from this 'friend'. My son had an imaginary friend but I didn't feel that fea ...more
Mar 29, 2010 Mia rated it did not like it
Ugh. Whiny self-centeredness + self-serving parenting + dash of mysticism-of-the- month = this book.
Oct 17, 2011 Marit rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Worst book I've read in years. 'Nuff said.
Oct 14, 2009 Callie rated it really liked it
Ms. Hope Edelman knows how to write a page-turner. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is about a family's vacation to Belize, where they try to cure their daughter of a very naughty imaginary friend. The real journey is the psychological one Ms. Edelman makes as she moves from a skeptical, intellectual, rationalist mind to a somewhat more believing place. For me the stories she tells about their family, her daughter, the reasons why she is the way she is were very compelling. She spends a lot ...more
Nov 07, 2010 Gayle rated it liked it
Edelman, her husband, and daughter are vivid characters in this memoir, which centers on a brief few days or a specific crazy phase in her daughter's life. Did Edelman need to spend 325 pages in relatively small print to get through these few days and the relevant scene-setting and flashbacks? Her use of dialog, personal detail, vivid settings, philosophical queries, and fresh snippets of research make for a compelling read. However, the work could have used another edit--long passages describin ...more
Oct 21, 2009 Denise rated it really liked it
The Possibility of Everything is Hope Edelman's story of healing her broken family in the jungles of Belize. The problems manifest themselves as Dodo, a violent, imaginary friend her 3 year old daughter conjures up. Along the path of ridding the family of Dodo's disruptive and troubling presence many other troubles surface and are healed. Hope talks a lot of her deep sadness over losing her mother at a young age and of the disconnectedness in having a husband who loves his family, but remains di ...more
Aug 11, 2009 Jacki rated it really liked it
I got this book free, as an ARC, from Goodreads. I love free stuff.

This is the story of a semi-neurotic mother whose daughter starts to act out and blame it on an imaginary friend. There is one scene, near the beginning of the book where there is a birthday party going on downstairs and the mother (Hope) comes upstairs to find Maya, who has slipped away from the party. She finds her talking in another language to this imaginary friend, Dodo... then as they leave the room, the girl turns around a
Haley Mathiot
Dec 15, 2009 Haley Mathiot rated it it was amazing
The Possibility of Everything was amazing. I was instantly wrapped up in Hope’s story, and fell in love with her little girl Maya. It was absolutely impossible to put down.

Hope had to go through so much to heal her daughter—she had to be brave and learn to accept things that she was afraid of, and things that just don’t match up with common sense. Hope is someone who does not believe in magic, spirits, or God, yet she’s taking her daughter to a healer who “communicates with the spirit world,” an
Dec 27, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Hope Edelman's books. She is a crisp, concise writer that doesn't shortchange detail and captures her thoughts and feelings with the right balance of intimacy and detachment. She balances facts and feelings in a way that keeps a non-fiction book extremely readable. As a fellow motherless daughter and motherless mother, I often feel as though she has lifted my thoughts and feelings right out of my head and put them on paper.

I wasn't sure what to expect from The Possibility of Every
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Hope Edelman is the internationally acclaimed author of five nonfiction books, including the bestsellers Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers, as well as the upcoming memoir, The Possibility of Everything. She has lectured extensively on the subjects of early mother loss and nonfiction writing in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Her articles and reviews have appeared in numerou ...more
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