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The Possibility of Everything

by Hope Edelman

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The Possibility of Everything is written by Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters. The title got my attention and drew me to this book. It wasn’t what I expected (although I’m not sure what I expected). It’s about mothering (and wife-ing too, for that matter), and about trusting your judgment in regard to both. The couple has a little girl, and the book deals with a short period of time in their lives when Maya first has an imaginary friend named “Dodo”, which subsequently morphs into an entire fleet of Dodos. At first they aren’t really that concerned, but as disturbing events pile up, their worry escalates. They decide to take a family trip to Belize and hopefully, with the help of a shaman, sort things out during this time. What I liked about the book is the author’s honesty as she described her feelings about her marriage, her daughter, herself, especiallly has she has to make difficult choices about what is the right thing to do in uncharted parenting territory. It was a hard-to-put-down book. ( )
  kmcwrites | Mar 24, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
About all I remember of this book was not enjoying it. It was a tragic story about a couple seeking a cure for their child, and while I understand the try anything mentality, I'm more of the 'try anything that has some fact behind it'. ( )
  waxlight | Dec 20, 2010 |
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 nearly as heartfelt or poetic. I enjoyed the writing, for the most part, though the author's cynicism frequently interrupts the flow, creating distance rather than drawing me into her perspective. Her rigid insistence against the spiritual, even when she doubted her beloved science, did not make me sympathetic to her at all. In fact, at times I just felt flat out sorry for her husband and child. I got a little lost with the constant references to her mother's death, which seemed poised to burst into some kind of present observation and never did. She just talks around learning to cherish every moment and knowing that through her daughter she gets to re-experience her mother, to some degree. Likewise her meandering through memories of lovers and former relationships, the illness of her father, combined with leaps forward, beyond the chronology of the story just didn't work for me. They came across disjointed and not tied into the plot. It read like a private journal and not as a polished, edited book.

In terms of her leap of faith, I applaud the author and I firmly believe the experience chronicled in this memoir was life-changing for her. I just didn't feel that she conveyed it with the passion or power it gifted her. Having spent time in Belize, I thoroughly enjoyed her descriptions of the people, places and cultural nuances of her travels, though her observations of being a reasonably wealthy American in a poverty-stricken country were oddly limited. She touches on the cultural appropriation of venturing to Belize for her own gain but she never develops the idea, let alone devises how she can give back for the gifts her family received. I know that part of the proceeds of the book go to charities there, but that was not included in the story. It's a side note on her website.

For those who are testing new spiritual boundaries, this book will speak to them. For those who comfortable outside the box, this book will likely be coarse and be a welcomed reminder of compassion. ( )
  copperbeech | Jul 7, 2010 |
the possibility of everything: a memoir by Hope Edelman (Ballantine $25.00.) ISBN: 0-465-03695-3. October 2009 Publication.

When a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear, does it make a sound? Do little kids really see monsters in the dark? Does God really exist?

Hope Edelman’s the possibility of everything explores the conflict between the rational, observable world and the spiritual or imaginary realm. Science has convinced us that if we can’t observe something or experience it with our five senses, it doesn’t exist. Then how do we explain so many things like the creation of the earth, the building of Stonehenge, or the complex, precise calendar pyramids built by the ancient Mayans without wheels, metal, or the technology that Galileo and Copernicus and so many others would use centuries later to make the same measurements?

When Maya, Hope’s three year old, introduces her imaginary friend Dodo into the house and blames him for her tantrums, misbehavior, and violent behavior, Hope is concerned. When Dodo seems to be affecting Maya’s health, Hope is forced to confront her insistence on the rational and to explore her doubts and fears as a parent. With her husband working ninety hour weeks and no female relatives to call on, Hope reaches out to Maya’s preschool teacher and pediatrician who seem perplexed by Hope’s concerns. After tensions in the household become too intense, Hope’s husband proposes a vacation over Christmas week, and the family decides to travel to Belize for the holidays.

At first, the trip seems like a mistake. The family encounters all the expected challenges of traveling with a child in Central America added to Maya’s poor health and Dodo’s manipulations. However, visits to shamans and healers, discussions with other Central American mothers, and a side trip to Tikal, spiritual capital of the ancient Mayans, during this most magical of seasons change the entire family and convince Hope that while not everything is explainable in rational, scientific terms, with faith everything is possible.

The possibility of everything explores the human need for the spiritual. For anyone who has doubted herself as a parent or challenged God for the loss of a loved one, the possibility of everything shows the miraculous in the traditional and the way one woman found answers in her relationships, child play, and everyday rituals. ( )
  gypsyreadr | Apr 17, 2010 |
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Worried about how to handle an imaginary friend's apparent hold on their daughter, Hope Edelman and her husband made the unlikely choice to take the young child to Maya healers in Belize, hoping that a shaman might help them banish this disruption--and, as they came to understand, all it represented--from their lives. In this deeply affecting, beautifully written memoir, Hope explores what they ultimately discover.… (more)

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