The Probable Future
by Alice Hoffman
The Sparrow women all have unique gifts that reveal themselves on their 13th birthdays. One can feel no pain, another can spot a lie, another can see people’s dreams, etc. On Stella’s 13th birthday she discovers that she can see how people will die. Her mother Jenny has lived a life full of mistakes, the biggest of which was running away from home and marrying Stella’s useless father, Will. When Stella’s gift throws their family into chaos, Stella and her mother return to the small town where Jenny grew up.
The plot is incredibly predictable. That’s not always a bad thing, just don’t expect any major surprises. It reminded me a lot of Practical Magic and after awhile I remembered that Hoffman wrote that one too. I was a little frustrated with the women in the novel at first. It seems like, despite their intelligence, they always choose the wrong men and then put up with them for far too long. The story grew on me though, as I became more invested in the characters.
BOTTOM LINE: I liked it more than I thought I would, but it’s not anything that will stick with me. It’s a good filler book, nothing earth shattering, but a quick read.
Pair with a viewing of Early Edition and Minority Report; both cover the topic of predicting the future. The first is a TV show where the lead character gets the newspaper for the next day in advance and so he can prevent a lot of the tragedies reported before they happen. I loved this show when I was in junior high!
Minority Report shows us a society where crimes are predicted and people are arrested before the crime is committed. Both movies and the book ask the question, is the predicted future set in stone or is it just a possible version of the future that can still be changed?