the possibility of everything by Hope Edelman
Release date: 2009 / 325 pages
Synopsis (from Amazon.com): In the autumn of 2000, Hope Edelman was a woman adrift, questioning her place in her marriage, hre profession, and the larger world. Feeling vulnerable and isolated, she was primed for change. Into her stagnant routine dropped Dodo, her three-year-old daughter’s Maya’s curiously disruptive imaginary friend. Confused and worried about how to handle Maya and Dodo’s apparent hold on her, Edelman and her husband made the unlikely choice to bring their daughter to Maya healers in Belize, hoping that a shaman might help them banish Dodo — and, as they came to understand, all he represented — from their lives.
First line: “A ragged, mostly dirt road twists through six miles of rainforest in western Belize, linking the villages of Cristo Rey and San Antonio.”
Review: First I want to explain how this wonderful memoir happened into my life. I was contacted months ago about reviewing The Late, Lamented Molly Marx and happily agreed. When the book arrived, it was in a big box filled with many other titles the publisher thought I might enjoy!
Now, this is a joyful and slightly stressful occurrence. Joyful because… well, who doesn’t want to receive a box full of free books?! And stressful because I was afraid I couldn’t keep up with the bounty — I truly feel compelled to read and review every single free book I receive. Call it karma or just common sense, but I do not feel right receiving a free book without some sort of recompense (although some authors would probably pass on my “recompense” after reading my review!).
However, Edelman has nothing to fear in my case. While I probably would not have chosen to read this based on the synopsis (which I did not read until I had finished the work), I thoroughly enjoyed it. And, honestly, the synopsis does not misrepresent this memoir. I’m just not sure I would have chosen a book about a 3-year-old’s strange imaginary friend and the shaman who tames him. Which makes me very similiar to the 3-year-old’s mother!
Edelman is who am I most days: logical, pragmatic, problem-solving, and a bit closed off. Her husband is who I hope to become, and who I resemble on my best days: open, abstract, welcoming, and open to whatever the universe brings me. (Point: just before beginning this review my husband asked if I would like to go out to dinner. What?! We hadn’t planned on this! What will I do with the meal already planned in my mind? I’m a work-in-progress…).
So, when Edelman’s three-year-old starts displaying mostly normal (meaning mostly annoying) characteristics that she cannot problem-solve, she is at a loss. She and her workaholic husband have already planned to take a much a needed vacation to Belize, and throughout the course of this vacation, mostly against Edelman’s will, a shaman — acutally three — enters their lives and, well, you’ll have to read the memoir to find out what happens.
But, here’s a sneak preview from the introduction…
My gentle husband, alwaqys gauging my moods, always trying to position himself on the safe side of conflict. Are you still okay with this? his expression asks. I crimpt the left side of my mouth and shrug my shoulder slightly. I’m deliberately impossible to read.
Even now, eight years later, I cannot tell you if I traveled down that road as a whole person, held intact by my own convictions, or if I went there as a broken woman, mechanically following my husband’s lead. I can tell you only what it is like to be riding in that van, on that mango road, rolling past dense fields of brown and green. It is to be a thirty-six-year-old woman, a mother and a wife, who is willing to do anything – anything – to help her child.
So, who do I recommend this to? Well, probably most mothers — but since I am not a mother myself, I would recommend it to anyone who is trying to become “just a little bit better” version of yourself.
My only reservation was that in two places I felt Edelman became a bit bogged down in the history of the Maya. I think these passages were very important on her journey, but to me felt a bit like a travel guide or anthropology course. The reader really cares about her journey, about Maya (her daughter), about Uzi (her husband), but the blending of instructional data on Maya time-keeping felt a bit intrusive.
However, the beauty of a memoir is that it is the writer’s story to tell — so, if you do not mind a bit of history here and there, I strongly recommend this lovely memoir. Interested in checking it out? Simply leave me a comment and I’ll choose a winner on Saturday!