Congratulations to….Emily! You will receive Pamela Redmond’s The Possibility of You in the mail!
Montclair can add another feather to its literary cap! Written in the interwoven style of The Hours, Pamela Redmond’s new novel, The Possibility of You, travels back and forth between three women’s experiences with unplanned pregnancies. Redmond’s ability to create separate story-lines that feel utterly different and still link seamlessly by the close of the novel is impressive. The Possibility of You is easy to read, and it keeps the reader’s interest with a wide variety of protagonists from which to choose. Dealing with topics like adoption, abandonment, and identity, the novel explores what makes a family – and it doesn’t offer up the same answer for everyone.
Redmond’s The Possibility of You deals with several pregnant women in varying circumstances, but the possibility of neglect and the choices parents make hover over each vastly different story in this novel. Whether it’s a well-off mother choosing to spend time with a beau rather than her son, a mother in desperate straits allowing her child to be brought up in place of another woman’s child, a young woman deciding whether or not to continue her pregnancy, and a pregnant woman trying to figure out whether she can love a child, Redmond creates believable characters who face realistic choices.
The clear heroine in the novel is Bridget, an Irish nanny whose story begins in New York City in 1916. It is Bridget’s choice in how to provide for her child that sets the novel’s events in motion. Her complicated relationship with Maude, her former employer, serves as a basis for the events that unfold throughout the story. Redmond’s admiration and respect for Bridget shows in her deep characterization of the nanny. From the first scene, in which Bridget’s love for her charge is clear, this reader wanted everything to turn out well for Bridget’s character. And while this is no Disney-fied fairy tale, the novel’s ending is satisfying and even comforting.
The historical details in the different time periods are interesting, but most effective in the earliest story which takes place surrounding World War I. At times if feels as though Redmond tried a little too hard to show her research. Her characters mingle with Margaret Sanger, Emma Goldman, and Patti Smith – and really one brush with such a reference would have been plenty.
While the storyline will be interesting to both genders, the novel is meant for women. The men in the novel serve as supports to the women. They impregnate the protagonists, only to drop out of the story-lines and leave the protagonists to figure out what to do about an unplanned pregnancy. In the modern-day story – part of what makes it modern, perhaps – the father of the unborn child reappears, willing to support his partner in her decision. But the novel is all about the relationship between various mothers and their children. One of the interesting questions the novel addresses is “What does motherhood mean?” And the answer is broad; we see mothers who are nannies, biological, adoptive, and those who foster. The modern character of Cait struggles to first define and then connect to the concept of motherhood in order to decide the turns her own life will take.
As an adoptee, I found a lot to relate to in some of Cait’s questions as she searched for answers about identity and why her birth mother had decided to continue the pregnancy and then give her up. Cait’s discussions with her parents (her adoptive parents) were especially touching. However, the push and pull between real parent and real grandparent seemed to change depending on whether the characters were likable characters or not. And that rubbed me the wrong way at times. Overall, however, I found the novel sensitive in all the right ways and insightful about important topics that ought to be discussed and pondered.
I highly recommend this novel as one to read and share and discuss. Topics like adoption, what makes a mother, contraception and abortion (especially now!), and identity make for fantastic discussion starters. The novel also has a collection of discussion questions at the end for book clubs or just to think about.
As mentioned on Baristanet, Pamela Redmond will be at Watchung Booksellers in March for a reading and book signing. Don’t miss it!
Here’s something definitely fun: A giveaway! Thanks to the generosity of Gallery Books and Simon & Schuster, I have one copy of The Possibility of You to give to one lucky reader. Leave a comment telling us how you identify yourself. Is it career, family roles, where you live, ethnicity, religion, race, language? A little of everything? For a second chance, please *like* the Facebook page of this blog (do it here!), then come back a leave a comment telling us that you did so. Chances will be collected until Friday, February 24th at midnight EST, so do it now!