Each woman from the Sparrow family is bestowed a natural gift on her thirteenth birthday. As Stella, the thirteenth Sparrow woman, turns thirteen, she realizes that she can see when and how people are going to die. This gift seems more like a curse, mostly when Stella’s father is sent to prison after trying to prevent a murder Stella foresaw…

Stella’s mother, Jenny, dreams other people’s dreams. She wants to give her daughter the love she was deprived of after her father died and her mother, Elinor, shut herself from the world and from her. Unfortunately, Stella feels oppressed by a mother who can’t seem to let her grow up…

Elinor is a human lie detector. When Jenny first introduced Stella’s father to her, she knew her daughter would never be happy with a man who is a liar and a cheat. Jenny left home and never turned back once, refusing to speak to her mother again. After Stella is forced by circumstances related to the murder to leave Boston and live in her grandmother Elinor’s house in Unity, Massachusetts, these women, belonging to three different generations, will have to learn to get to know each other again, to try to forgive and to make peace with the past. For Stella it will be an opportunity to learn more about her family’s history and about the first of the Sparrow women, Rebecca, who couldn’t feel pain.

The Probable Future is  written in a free-flowing and very poetic style; Alice Hoffman has a real gift with words. Although I do not always find her stories corresponding to what I am looking for in a novel, this one is engrossing and a quick read. Hoffman evokes classic literary themes such as death and grief, friendship and love. The supernatural element is secondary to the main purpose of the book.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this novel, mainly because of its flawless style, although I found it quite depressing because of the dominance of the theme of death. I would also have liked the Sparrow women’s gifts to play a more important part in the plot…

Rating: 3,5/5