20 Oct / The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings
So as not to prolong the disappointment and annoyance, I’m going to try to keep this short. I actually skip posting about duds more often than not because the energy feels so wasted, but this title has history: it was attached to a ‘how-many-of-these-have-you-read?”-query from a close friend, prompted by a Huffington Post article, “11 Asian-Pacific American Authors You Should Read.” [At the time, I’d read nine of the 11, so I felt compelled to finish the list: Sidewalk Dancing proved predictable, and this … well … read on.]
You could treat this as a PSA of sorts: in light of our overcommitted schedules, perhaps I might save a reader or two from feeling resentful over the 9.5 hours indulged in the ears (narrator Joy Osmanski has a lot of whining to do) or the almost-300 that passed through stiffening fingers. But then given all the positive reviews available out there, perhaps contrary reactions are good fodder for an enlightening conversation between opposites. Do please share your thoughts!
So here’s the basic gist: Multigenerational Breckenridge resident Sarah St. John lost her 22-year-old son Cully in an avalanche three months ago. Although she thought she was close to her only child – who was living at home after college graduation, working as a valet parking attendant – she (surprise!) learns how much she didn’t know about him: drug-dealing and baby-making, although she seems most betrayed by the regular visits he had with his father Billy whom Sarah never married. Cully’s childhood friend, Morgan, has planned a memorial at their college, so Sarah, Billy, her father Lyle, her best friend (and Morgan’s mother) Suzanne, all pile into Suzanne’s oversized SUV to attend. In tow is Kit, whom no one knew just a few days earlier, but who might have known Cully best of all.
Alas, tragic narrative that Possibilities is, finding even a smidge of sympathy is challenging: The latest cast created by hapa Hawaiian Kaui Hart Hemmings (who hit the literary and celluloid jackpot with the George Clooney vehicle, The Descendants) is an utterly unlikable, one-dimensional bunch. Morgan is a shallow opportunist. Billy is one of those too-charming teenagers who never really grew up. Suzanne and her soon-to-be-divorced cheating husband Dickie (really?!!) are soap-opera cut-outs. Lyle might have been sympathetic for all his mourning-disguised-as-late-night-infomercial-shopping, but his inappropriate over pointing out Suzanne’s growing girth is inexcusable. The only unforeseen detail about Kit is perhaps where she decides to regurgitate. And Sarah, with her horribly cruel fat-jokes (like father, like daughter?) she directs at her very-best-friend-in-the-whole world, nulls any tolerance she might have elicited. With friends like that … run for the hills and never come back!
Being temporarily domiciled in a similar high-altitude resort town with a famous film festival had me convinced I could find empathetic wisdom between these pages. That I kept going to the very end in spite of my constant eyeball-rolling perhaps is merely proof of my oxygen-deprivation. Time to take my own advice … and run for the hills indeed.