The Possible by Tara Altebrando
Published by: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Released: June 6 2017
Read: April 3 2017
Kaylee is a cleverly constructed unreliable narrator. At times, readers are sympathetic, flared up in anger at the injustices done to her, and other times, they are startled with questions and uncertainty. Altebrando juggles these contrasting perceptions with confidence and ease, while readers swing violently between urging Kaylee on in solving her quest, and pulling back from her aggressive and manipulative decisions.
Some people like being twisted like this. I am not sure I do. But I do advise to stay away from spoilers with this one. Just as with We Were Liars, and Everything, Everything, it’s best to form your own opinions. When you are one of those who can predict correctly, there’s something electric about discovering it on your own. Being able to sort through the facts, the red herrings, and the assumptions are all essential elements to a satisfying reading experience.
Kaylee is 17, a quality softball pitcher, a good friend, and an adopted daughter whose mother is imprisoned, found guilty of the death of Kaylee’s younger brother. She keeps a lot of her past a secret from her peers, but when a journalist tracks her down to be part of a podcast investigating claims of her mother’s psychic abilities, Kaylee has her own reasons for saying yes. Her parents don’t agree, and Kaylee’s choices about defying them and refusing to listen to her friends are not always wise or careful. There’s a recklessness to her, a fearlessness which we admire, but also makes us nervous. How far can she push her luck?
Is it even luck?
Initially the story reads much like a traditional YA novel – Kaylee crushes on a boy who goes out with the Queen Bee, she jokes and messes around with bffs Chiara and Aidan, she collects snow globes and works hard to balance softball practice, school work, and her social life. But as the story about Crystal’s past starts to dominate and the podcast brings up memories, the tone increases in creep factor, and there’s more ambiguity about all the characters’ intents and motivation. Who can we trust? Who does Kaylee trust? Who do we believe? Kaylee’s own perceptions are called into question, and readers will either engage completely with the author’s attempts to draw them in, or feel distrustful and manipulated. I fell somewhere between the two—the more I knew of Kaylee, the more I liked her. Sometimes she is judgmental and mean, but she’s also brave and resilient, and really wants to reconcile her past. In this way, it is a coming-of-age story, a girl searching for her identity.
But also, creepy!
There’s a lot of information about paranormal activity, there’s also a lot of ‘what ifs’. Readers will find it hard to stop reading once Kaylee starts her investigation, and I will be interested to see what people decide about the resolution.
Advanced copy provided by publisher via Netgalley and read with thanks. Book is out in the UK and Australia on June 1st and June 6th in the US.
Recommended for readers who like their stories edgy and twisty. There is a romance that develops and the love interest is genuine and worthy. Altebrando is inclusive and her characters are diverse and authentic. There is a strong blend of emotion and mystery, but it is very plot driven. The ending may shock but it is ambiguous and invites readers to draw their own conclusions. While I appreciate its cleverness, I am weary and wary of manipulation.