David Levithan The Realm of Possibility
210 pp. Knopf (Random House). 2004. ISBN: 0-375-83657-8
Summary (From the publisher): “Here’s what I know about the realm of possibility—
it is always expanding, it is never what you think it is. Everything around us was once deemed impossible. From the airplane overhead to the phones in our pockets to the choir girl putting her arm around the metalhead. As hard as it is for us to see sometimes, we all exist within the realm of possibility. Most of the limits are of our own world’s devising. And yet, every day we each do so many things that were once impossible to us.
Enter The Realm of Possibility and meet a boy whose girlfriend is in love with Holden Caulfield; a girl who loves the boy who wears all black; a boy with the perfect body; and a girl who writes love songs for a girl she can’t have.
These are just a few of the captivating characters readers will get to know in this intensely heartfelt new novel about those ever-changing moments of love and heartbreak that go hand-in-hand with high school. David Levithan plumbs the depths of teenage emotion to create an amazing array of voices that readers won’t forget. So, enter their lives and prepare to welcome the realm of possibility open to us all. Love, joy, and these stories will linger.”
I’m a huge fan of David Levithan’s work. Until The Realm of Possibility I’ve only read one of David’s stand-alone books- Boy Meets Boy. I’ve read many of his dual-author books like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. His characters are always honest, witty and laugh-out-loud funny. The Realm of Possibility shows a much different side to David’s writing ability. It shows a writing ability and style that makes me want more (not that I didn’t want more from his other books!)
First, the book is told from the perspectives of twenty different characters, many of them connected. Second, most of the stories are told in verse- beautiful, moving verse. Here’s an example from Daniel’s perspective “once time is lit, it will burn / whether or not you’re breathing it in. / even after smoke becomes air / there is the memory of smoke. / i am seeing, as if by the light of a match, / a glimpse of my life / and having it feel right. / this will linger” (11). Isn’t that gorgeous?! I had no idea he wrote poetry. The way each character tells his or her story in verse or lyrics reminds me of Ellen Hopkins’ novels.
I don’t know what it is about verse, but I feel like I can get to know characters more deeply through this style of writing. In The Realm of Possibility I do wish some characters would have had more “page time”, but that’s because these are intriguing characters that left me wanting more. The book began with Daniel who’s dating Jed, and I ended up adoring Daniel and his vulnerable side. David deciding to end his book from Jed’s perspective left me smiling 🙂 This relationship, and both characters telling their story, allowed me to get to know them in a different way.
I do have one dislike, and only one! I mentioned that this style of writing reminds me of Ellen Hopkins’ books (Impulse, Identical, Tricks, Fallout in particular). In these books she has multiple characters speaking at different times. One way that these books are different from The Realm of Possibility is that whenever a new character begins speaking, the character’s name appears at the top of the page to signal the reader. David starts each new chapter of characters with a list of the characters he’s introducing, but their names don’t appear when a switch is made. This was confusing for me, and I found myself turning back to remind myself which character I was reading.
This is definitely something that should be added to a classroom library. Because the characters’ relationships work for friendships and gay/lesbian/straight relationships, this is a book that appeals to a wide audience.