by Pamela Redmond
Publication Date: February 21, 2012
Book received from: Publisher
What I expected from The Possibility of You was something similar to The Hours or If These Walls Could Talk. What I got was something similar, but not as intense and dark as those- but, rather, a work that was a bit more hopeful and relatable. Pamela Redmond delivers a history of reproductive rights that spans three generations of women and follows the consequences of their choices. It is a great and compact history of the issues, but does not overdue the rhetoric from either side.
Bridget is a woman of 1916 New York that makes a decision in her sexual life that will be with her forever. Her story is riddled with secrets that bind her to certain people in her life in ways that seem unimaginable today. However, it is apparent that she made a decision that was right for her, given her circumstances at the time. She is unaware of how her actions will reverberate through the generations, and attempts to make everything right, using the resources to which she has access.
Billie is a young woman in 1976 that learns of a family she never knew existed. She has no idea the tangled web in which she will get tangled until it is all too late. Although her choices seem to be somewhat irresponsible, she must learn to think of more than just herself, which might mean giving up everything and everyone she loves. Her world is a time of newfound freedom and change, and she believes that nothing will hold her back.
Cait is a woman of today- independent, successful, and not wanting to be tied down. When she learns that she is pregnant, she must decide if it is something she can do. Knowing she is adopted, she sets out on a quest to find her birth parents in an effort to find out more about herself. What she discovers is generations of secrets and an intimate history of stories that have shaped who she is today.
The great thing about The Possibility of You is that the stories are so easily true and reflective of the time in which each of them lived. We are not only given a history of these women, but of all women, through the lens of the changes in reproductive rights. It is easy to take the decisions available today for granted, and reading the effects of the lack of access and understanding bring sit all back into perspective. The clever and poignant cameos from such remarkable women as Marie Curie, Margaret Sanger, Emma Goldman, and even Patti Smith make it impossible to deny the reality behind these women’s stories.
When I started reading the book, I was afraid that it was going to be too glossed over for the issues at hand. However, the detail and reality of reproductive rights was not downplayed by any extent, even if parts of the personal histories may have been a bit simplistic. The story of Bridget was the most well-developed for me throughout the book. While Billie’s started out very strong and relatable, it felt rushed and scattered by the end. Cait’s character had more potential than was delivered in the end, as well, but wrapped up the generational history quite nicely.
The Possibility of You is a great nutshell history of women’s rights, and delivers a warm cast of characters that are intertwined in ways that have bound them together for life. Redmond has done her homework, and not only discusses issues of reproductive rights, but also race, class, sexuality, and the meaning of motherhood. She delivers a believable and relatable intersection of women’s lives throughout history, and makes us see what has not changed, while appreciating how far we’ve come.
For more about Pamela Redmond, visit her website.
This book can be purchased at Amazon.com, as well as your local independent bookseller.