What Could be Saved by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz


What Could Be Saved by Liese O'Hallaran Schwarz

Told in dual timelines, this historical fiction/mystery book follows the lives of the Preston family. In the early timeline, Genevieve and Robert, an American intelligence agent, are raising their three children in Bangkok. 

Meanwhile, in the present-day timeline, Laura Preston and her sister, Bea, live in D.C. Laura gets contacted by someone claiming to be their brother who disappeared decades ago while the family lived in Bangkok. Laura, a reclusive artist, impulsively flies to Thailand to discover whether the stranger is really her long-lost brother.

While the storyline is original and interesting, the book’s pacing could be better. It starts off incredibly slow and includes meandering details. Despite the lack of action in the first forty percent of the book, we don’t really get to know a lot about the characters either. I felt as if I was muddling through, trying to care about what was happening to the Prestons. For the better part of the book, it was hazy on specifics about how long Phillip was gone and how old he was when he disappeared, though this becomes clearer later on. 

“She’d been living so long with an illusion, that they’d been whole and happy once, a perfect family shattered by tragedy. All her life mourning that loss. When instead they had been more like bits in a kaleidoscope, falling randomly to make small areas of beauty, falling apart again with the next twist, into a new disorder and a new beauty. Perhaps everyone was that way, living their lives out in the clung clump of color in which they found themselves, never seeing the bigger picture and how it all fit.”

Liese O’Halloran Schwarz, What Could Be Saved

I found it hard to connect with either Laura or Bea, though I could relate to Laura’s decision to secretly fly to Thailand against everyone’s wishes. Both sisters seemed distant with personalities hidden behind a fog. The book focuses less on Phillip’s disappearance than I expected and focused more on the family dynamics and the impact of his loss on the other characters.

Once I reached part four of the book, I had a better understanding of why Schwarz chose to write it the way she did. I also found it really touching when I reached the moment that inspires the book’s title. 

Readers who appreciate family sagas, period pieces set in the early 70s, or mysteries that unfold over decades and span continents will find a lot to enjoy about What Could Be Saved.

2 thoughts on “What Could be Saved by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz

Leave a Reply