Book Review: The Possible World – Liese O’Halloran Schwarz


Synopsis: Ben is the sole survivor of a crime that claims his mother and countless others. He is just six years old, and already he must find a new place for himself in the world.

Lucy, the doctor who tends to Ben, is grappling with a personal upheaval of her own. She feels a profound connection to the little boy who has lived through the unthinkable. Will recovering his memory heal him, or damage him further?

Clare has long believed that the lifetime of secrets she’s been keeping don’t matter to anyone anymore, until an unexpected encounter prompts her to tell her story.

As they each struggle to confront the events – past and present – that have defined their lives, something stronger than fate is working to bring them together…


Firstly……when Jodi Picoult says that she wishes that she wrote this book….. you know you’re in for a good read!


The book focuses around 3 characters.

Ben, a 6 year old boy who is the sole survivor of a mass murder which claims the life of his mother and his best friends. Following the murder, he becomes withdrawn and ends up having to talk to various psychiatrists.

Lucy, the doctor who treats Ben when he comes to the hospital following the murder. From the get so, she feels a connection to Ben and is determined to help him.

Clare, an old lady who lives in a nursing home, who is finally ready to tell her story.

I’ll be honest, this book is not what I expected. I don’t know why, but I thought it would have more to do with the mass murder (clearly I’ve been reading too much crime!), but that has little to do with the rest of the story. I’m so glad that this is the case because the story is beautiful and I think focusing too much on the murder would mean that the story would go in a different direction.

Straight away we know the link between Ben and Lucy. But we don’t know what Clare has to do with anything and we don’t know why Ben keeps on asking to be taken back to Clare, even though he has never met her. We don’t find that out until much later, because her history is slowly woven in to the main story. It is her story which links all 3 seemingly unrelated people together. 

‘The Possible World’ is filled with so many emotions. Sadness, happiness, pain, wistfulness. Most of all, it’s about life, the connections we have with each other and how our pasts impact our present.

I connected really well with all of the characters, which I initially thought was a bit weird, because I don’t have anything in common with an old lady, a doctor or a young boy! I think that just goes to show how well Liese O’Halloran Schwarz has portrayed the characters. They’re not just one dimensional and I think that’s why you can connect to them. There is so much more to them what you would originally think. You get to see them when they’re being moody and snappy and rude. But you also get to see them being human… when they’re at their most vulnerable and they finally decide to let their guard down.

I had to take my time when I was writing the review for this. When I first finished the book, I was a bit disappointed with the ending. It felt like an anti-climax at first. But now that I’ve had time to think about it, I actually really like the ending and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. At first, I wanted a ‘big finish’…. But I realise now that that wouldn’t have felt right. The ending was perfect and peaceful, which fits really well with what happens at the end. It was perfect.

I’m just sad that I read it so quickly!!

Thank you to the publisher, Random House UK, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for a honest review.

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