Skip to main content

The Realm of Possibility

Review

The Realm of Possibility

David Levithan's THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY is a collection of interrelated monologues written in free verse. Each poem is a glimpse into the private world of one of twenty different characters, all attending the same high school. While each person may be separated in school by the usual social boundaries, they privately share many of the same desires, fears and longings.

The poems range from the humorous, "My girlfriend is in love with Holden Caulfield" or the darkly hilarious, "Suburban myths," to more serious subjects such as "The Patron Saint of Stoners," about an honor society student buying marijuana for her terminally ill mother. One of the book's highlights is a poem called "Gospel," about what happens when Gail, a deeply Christian choir singer, shares her music with Anton, the school's resident outcast.

As one gets further into the book, the interconnectedness between the poems and the characters becomes apparent. The book begins and ends with poems about the same relationship, from two different points of view. While many of the characters feel isolated and alone, they are in fact part of a vibrant, interrelated community.

David Levithan is also the author of BOY MEETS BOY, set in a comparably tolerant community. Like THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY, it focuses on the similarities between characters instead of their differences. Both books treat sex preference as a normal expression rather than as a problem or source of trauma. This approach is a relatively new development in young adult literature; Levithan's books are a marvelous example of how homosexual themes are being integrated into mainstream young adult literature.

THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY contains many possibilities: in the events occurring to the characters in the book, in the lives of its readers, and in its promise for the future of YA literature. The use of free verse to convey plot, character and meaning is a brilliant and intuitive choice. The poems read like they are written by young adults, and Levithan clearly delineates characters using different styles and tones. While there are a number of novels in free verse written for younger readers, THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY may be the first in this form intended for young adults. This book is likely to be the source of inspiration for many budding poets.

THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY is about love, identity and our interconnectedness as humans. Each poem is about discovering oneself through love, and speaks to the idea that as long as our hearts are open, we are never truly alone. As Levithan writes in the title poem, "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."

Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood on August 10, 2004

The Realm of Possibility
by David Levithan

  • Publication Date: August 10, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Poetry
  • Hardcover: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Borzoi / Alfred A. Knopf
  • ISBN-10: 0375828451
  • ISBN-13: 9780375828454