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What Could Be Saved

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What Could Be Saved

January 2021

I had heard about WHAT COULD BE SAVED by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz from bookseller friends since the summer --- and I had the pleasure of hearing Liese talk about it a few months ago.

The book opens in 2019. Laura Preston is an artist who has found some success, but also clearly is drifting. She is very different from her older sister, Bea, and her mother, who is being swept into dementia. Laura is contacted by someone claiming to know the whereabouts of her brother, Philip, who had disappeared when her family lived in Bangkok in the '70s. He was eight at the time. Against the wishes of her sister and her fiancé, Laura heads to Thailand to see what she will learn. And yes, she locates her brother. But the brother she finds is an adult, and there are lost decades between them. Just what happened to him?

We then flashback to Bangkok in the '70s. Robert Preston has an engineering job that has the family stationed there. He’s on a project building a dam that was to have taken one year, but it has been prolonged to more than three. Genevieve, his wife, is putting on a bright face in Bangkok, trying to make life there normal for the family, but the country is very challenging. And it becomes even more so when Philip disappears. The marriage of Robert and Genevieve is fraught with tension --- and readers are taken inside both of their points of view, as well as those of the girls.

The family heads back to the States without Philip, and they somewhat limp along. There were many secrets left behind in Bangkok, some of which followed them home. And we learn so much about each of the characters as we read on. It’s captivating right to the very last page, and Liese reveals the story like peeling the layers of an onion.

Liese spent her early childhood in Bangkok, and she loved her time there. WHAT COULD BE SAVED began as a short story and grew from that. This is a great book for book groups; there is so much to discuss. I cannot wait to see what she writes next.

What Could Be Saved
by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

  • Publication Date: January 12, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 1982150610
  • ISBN-13: 9781982150617