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The Possibilities

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  3,095 Ratings  ·  478 Reviews
In this highly anticipated novel from the bestselling author of The Descendants, a grieving mother struggles to overcome her son’s death, when a strange girl enters her life with a secret that changes them both forever.

Sarah St. John, a single mother, is reeling from grief: Three months ago, her twenty-one-year-old son, Cully, died in an avalanche near their home in the sk
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published May 13th 2014 by Simon Schuster
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Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings was a book club read.

I really didn't connect with this book at all. I felt the novel lacked character development and emotion. I kept feeling I was reading a book that was missing the first 100 pages. I just couldn't connect with the story or the characters. Just not my cup of tea. So moved on swiftly.

Will be interesting to see how it works as a discussion book.
switterbug (Betsey)
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There are as many books on grieving as there are ways to grieve. Some books, whether self-help, memoirs, or novels, have an agenda to assist the reader through the grieving process. Hemmings’ novel, however, doesn’t overreach, patronize, or even subtly attempt to provide lessons in grief or a helping hand. Instead, it is an engaging character study of specific people going through a universal process in very personal ways. It isn’t narrated in a maudlin or elegiac voice, or expressed through his ...more
Diane S ☔
Jun 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Hemming has a very smooth style of writing and is very good at taking personal tragedies and making very good stories from them. In this one, a son is lost in an avalanche and Sarah, his mother must find a way to move on. I loved the character Jack, her father, his wisdom and his corny jokes. The characters are very assessable, real life people, dealing with real life situations. Her friend is coping with a cheating husband, and when a girl unknown to them arrives with a shattering proposition, ...more
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Savor this one as much as you can while reading, because it goes so quick regardless of the size of the text. The focus is marvelous and the emotion feels genuine. It is warm without feeling overly saccharine. Very nice.
Susan Johnson
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book better than I did but I couldn't. I read and liked "The Descendants" and I feel this is just a rehash of that story. Both stories take place in a paradise and both deal with death in the family. In this one, the 22 year old son, Cully dies in a snow avalanche at his hometown ski resort. This deals with the mother and grandfather coming to terms with his death.

In "The Descendants" the mother dies an untimely death and it deals with the family coming to terms wi
Maria Espadinha
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Ponte das Memórias

Um Filho é uma parte integrante e importante da Vida de qualquer Mãe merecedora do título.
Se uma Mãe perde um Filho, essa Vida é Amputada!
O Grande Alvo do seu Amor desvaneceu-se, mergulhando-a num Poço de Amargura.

Lá fora fervilha todo um Mundo de Possibilidades que ela não vê nem sente!
Não sem antes construir uma Ponte com os fragmentos do Filho que vivem disseminados nos outros que também o amaram.
A Ponte que a devolverá à Vida!...

"Não se pode esquecer alguém antes de term
Janet Elsbach
May 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: tried-failed
As a 'next book by someone who just wrote a book that turned into a hot movie,' this should have fallen under my new policy of not reading those, but I didn't have the policy in place until I read this book and another in the same category back to back. Creating an imaginary world for readers to imagine themselves into successfully is quite a feat. Once that world it is rendered on screen in one static form, and the movie takes off like wildfire, I think even wonderful writers can get knocked of ...more
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
When it comes to writing about loss and grieving, Kaui Hart Hemmings' work shines above the rest. As a fan of The Descendants, I was curious to see if the two novels shared many similarities due to their themes, but with The Possibilities comes new and exciting territory.

I want to start by saying I love how Hemmings includes her settings. This time it's Colorado, a different kind of beautiful, but still a tourist destination. Hemmings beautifully portrays the constant reminders that come from l
Susan K Perry
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rosana Maia
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-read
Em primeiro lugar, vou comentar a linda capa deste livro! Quando olhei para ela pela primeira vez fiquei logo com vontade de o ler. Além de ser muito bonita, é muito adequada ao tema e ao estado de espírito que o caracteriza. Como estava a ler outro livro e, no geral, não tenho o hábito de ler mais do que um em simultâneo, coloquei-o direitinho na minha estante até finalmente pegar nele a sério. E confesso que não me arrependi de não ter pegado logo nele.

Como a sinopse nos diz, “Sarah St. John t
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
It is weird when a book becomes completely predictable because of how much it mirrors the author's previous book.

By weird I mean boring.
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
The criticism for this novel basically says that it treads the same ground as the author's previous novel, The Descendants. Now, I've only watched the movie adaptation of that book, but I agree. It has the same thread of a family dealing with a death. Here, it is a son as opposed to the mom in The Descendants, but it is essentially similar - you never really know a person, no matter how close you are to them. The secrets that the young man of 22 kept are quite obvious to the reader from the jack ...more
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For a parent, there are few things as devastating as the loss of a child and normally I avoid stories about children abducted or killed, but there’s an approachability to main character Sarah St. John that drew me into this novel and after reading the first few pages I was hooked. Breckenridge, Colorado is a mountain resort town full of tourists, but Sarah’s family has deep roots in its snowy landscape because it’s been their home for generations. Sarah’s son Cully was twenty-two and after gradu ...more
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
There will be the inevitable comparison to "The Decendents" for this novel. Even I found myself, when reading descriptions of the surroundings, thinking, "Snow in Hawaii?", and having to remind myself this was a different story.
Hemmings is clearly a gifted writer. I love her character dialog and story development. Even when you can see, chapters ahead, where the story is going, you don't mind the journey she takes you on to get there.
At the center of this is a controversial storyline, but I fe
Christina Dudley
Feb 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: galleys
This book was an easy read, told in the same half-humorous, half-elegiac tone of THE DESCENDENTS. Despite the fresh setting of Breckenridge, it felt very similar to that earlier book. There was the lost person whom everyone is grieving, the secrets that get revealed, the comic relief. If you enjoyed THE DESCENDENTS, you will probably enjoy this book and squirm a little for something new (I did).

Most likely I will read Kaui Hart Hemmings' next book, but I'm hoping she will cover some fresh territ
Jun 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Switterbug and others rated this book 5 star based on what I cannot tell you. If you loved the Descendants then Hemming’s has repeated the story changing Hawaii for a ski town, changing the death of the mother for the death of a son. It is all the same coming to terms with death the secrets one keeps, and moving forward.
She has abeautiful writing style that I hope she puts forth in her new book with a new focus.
Jan 06, 2014 rated it liked it
An exploration of grief, family relationships and the choices we make in life. Good but not great - had expected a bit more from the author of "The Descendants." Still, if you have ever lost someone close in your life, you will find yourself nodding in recognition at the emotions exposed and observations made by the narrator, a mother who has recently lost her son as a young adult.
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
A young man dies in an avalanche and his mother tries to pick up the pieces of her life. But everything’s changed. All those possibilities promised for his future, and hers, are gone. There’s no purpose to a day-job advertising treasures he’ll never enjoy, or making jokes that can never be shared with him. The snow still falls but it’s not thick enough to shovel, and Sarah’s walking on ice.

Author Kaui Hart Hemmings conveys her protagonist’s emptiness with powerful and humorous conviction. Even a
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I won this through Goodreads' giveaway program. “The Possibilities” was my first book by Hemmings, famous for “The Descendants.” The direct and clean writing made the book easy to read. I liked the main character, Sarah, who struggled to overcome the sadness she felt after her son’s death. Sarah’s thoughts were quirky and made her seem realistic. Halfway through the book, the big event alluded to on the back cover finally happened. I would have liked to see that occur sooner, especially since th ...more
John Lamb
Nov 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-read
I received this book as part of the Good Reads giveaway contest. The initial excitement in reading this book is seeing the places I am familiar with get "cameos" throughout the book, as Hemmings highlights Breckenridge and Colorado Springs as her main settings. Does this book, therefore, move beyond the "Hey-I've-Been-There" propulsion of reading? Hemmings has a way with dialogue and the wry sense of humors carries the book well. The plot seems a little too convenient to the themes of grief in t ...more
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a book to read out loud and quote.
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
(Dutch review: https://recenseernogeenkeer.wordpress...)

I don't feel like the soap opera-ish twist was necessary to make you understand grief.
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I honestly don't know how to rate this book. I don't know what I was expecting, but a book about the death of a son, drug use and grieving was not it. This hit just too close to home for me. The main character's son died three months ago, mine nine weeks ago, drugs were involved in the story and in my son's case as well. The mother in the story was lost and trying to find her way as am I. Very painful to read.
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings is a very highly recommended novel about a mother dealing with her grief.

Three months ago 43 year old Sarah St. John's 22 year old son, Cully, was killed in an avalanche. Set in Breckenridge, Colorado, where Sarah is a talk show host, she tries going back to work after a three month absences, but understands all too well that she may not be ready. She silently entreats "Please, give me strength. Strength to return, to get back to life. My plan is to move i
May 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
I feel very protective over the setting of this book, Breckenridge, Colorado, since many of my maternal ancestors lie buried in its cemetery and I spent so many of my formative years there with my grandparents who themselves lived in and around the city limits almost their entire lives until old age infirmities pushed them to lower elevations and doctors and less ice. This is the place where my own parents met and where I went to the fourth grade with a bunch of mean kids and where we ate a hund ...more
Joseph Street
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it
The unkind take on "The Possibilities" is that it is a retread of "The Descendants" -- white folks with uncharacteristically deep roots in a transient resort location deal with the aftermath of a family member's tragically accidental death. Throw in an ample amount of humor and gently guide the characters to an ambivalent resolution that nonetheless feels reassuring. The character roles are rearranged, as is the specific location, but the formula is strikingly similar. The voice of the narrator, ...more
May 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I feel like I would have loved this book more earlier in my life, as it kind of has a sad tone that I used to love and can handle far less now that I have a baby because I am boring and have grown a heart.

Story is about Sarah St. John, 40-something Breckenridge legacy family person whose 22yrold son died in a ski avalanche a few months ago. So, I should not be surprised it is sad. And author wrote The Descendants, so I should not be surprised it is sad and wry (and poignant and funny and...). Lo
Book of Secrets
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I'm not even sure where to start - my expectations of this book were rather neutral, I had heard nothing about it and purely picked it up because of the cover (or rather pick it up to read the summary and /then/ buy it). Even when I glanced the reviews on here they stayed neutral for I have not read the book this is constantly compared to.

On it's own I found it to be a rather wonderful, calming read especially compared to the YA fantasy I just finished not too long ago. Almost immediately I fell
Melissa Lee-Tammeus
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: borrowed
One of the best books I have read this year. Any book that can make me cry is definitely worth that title. The author of The Descendants (yes, the movie with Clooney) has done it again. I am super partial to this book as the setting is in Breckenridge, CO - a place I love and have great memories. Her depiction of the streets and even some of the local bars and hangouts were fantastic and I was filled with nostalgia. But aside from that, this is everything you would expect after seeing/reading he ...more
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I'm the author of The Descendants, House of Thieves, The Possibilities and Juniors, a YA novel. My next novel, How to Party with an Infant will be published August 9 2016. Visit my website:
“We continue to eat, the conversation easy and flowing. I listen to everything everyone says, an urgency to pay attention, to not miss these moments you don't know are moments until they're gone. I narrow in, trying to hold it all in place, even though I think that if you document life this way, the moments will never set. We don't need to remember. Everything just becomes a part of you. And then it's over.” 4 likes
“I picture Cully tromping through that high, deep snow. That's how I feel physically from all of this. Moving through grief like it's a thick drift, exhausting but enlivening. It makes your muscles ache. It makes you feel you've inhabited your body completely.” 0 likes
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