Book Review: ‘The Possible’ by Tara Altebrando

Author: Tara Altebrando

Originally Published by Bloomsbury in June 2017

Review by Miriam Atkinson

Adopted teen Kaylee’s world is turned upside down when a reporter arrives claiming her birth-mother Crystal has telekinetic powers. To complicate matters Crystal was imprisoned many years prior for murder. Kaylee initially dismisses the idea of telekinesis but starts to wonder if she too has powers. Kaylee’s life begins spiralling out of control as the reporter launches her podcast and supernatural investigation, leaving Kaylee wondering who to trust or if she can even trust herself.

Every so often you come across a book that you can’t put down and for me The Possible was certainly one of them. From the first chapter I was hooked, perhaps because I found Kaylee such a relatable character. She’s an ordinary teenage girl however Kaylee’s journey throughout the novel captures the contradiction a lot of us feel, especially as teenagers. We want to fit in and be like everyone else but at the same time we wish there was something extraordinary either about us or that would happen to us to make us special and different from everyone around us. Kaylee frequently switches between denying she has telekinetic powers to conducting experiments, such as guessing the role of a dice, to see if she can in fact control the world around her.

The Possible is also a mystery/detective novel. Told exclusively from Kaylee’s point of view, the reader joins Kaylee as she uses clues, such as interviews from the podcast, to piece her past back together and discover if Crystal’s telekinetic powers are real or an elaborate hoax. The reader and Kaylee learn new information at the same time and so readers are able to form their own theories alongside Kaylee. During the novel Kaylee offers anecdotes from her life focussing on odd coincidences, such as a lamp spontaneously breaking when she was angry. The reader (and characters) must decide if these strange events really are coincidences or evidence of a hidden ability. The theories twist and turn and I was left constantly changing my opinion until the truth was finally revealed in the climatic showdown.

A key feature of the novel was the inclusion of texts and interviews which altered the layout of the pages. Sequences of text messages between Kaylee and her friends realistically appear like a screen shot from a phone while podcast interviews were laid out as a script. They contrast the block of prose around them, jumping out from the page and grabbing my attention. They also brought out hidden emotion in Kaylee’s character. For example the inclusion of capital letters and the rapid fire of text messages show her panic despite protesting that everything in her life is fine. The podcast interviews bring a sense of seriousness and formality to contrast against Kaylee’s casual narrative voice filled which is with pop culture references and fears as the abnormal invades her world.

The Possible is a wonderful novel that completely puts the reader into the mind of its protagonist. Full of twists and turns that leave you guessing; filled with the everyday and the supernatural, conspiracies and detective work, everything is neatly combined into a single exciting story.

This review was originally published in the online magazine Cuckoo Review in June 2017

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