Laura Preston is at odds with her older sister Bea as their formidable mother slides into dementia. When a stranger contacts Laura claiming to be her brother who disappeared 40 years earlier, Laura ignores Bea's warnings of a scam and flies to Thailand to see if it can be true.
This sounds like a setup for a suspense novel, and What Could Be Saved does offer suspenseful moments and surprising reversals. But two other elements make this novel uniquely satisfying: the portraits of each Preston family member, and the novel’s depiction of the unintended consequences of late 20th-century Americans abroad ... Genevieve is an especially memorable character, depicted at first as a shallow expat wife but when confronted with extreme loss is forced to change dramatically. Schwarz also gives wonderful texture to life in early 1970s Bangkok, although occasionally those details go too far, lending weight to moments that don’t need them ... juggles a complex story and structure, creating believable characters in its portrait of a family shattered by loss.
... superb ... Schwarz is a remarkable storyteller, juggling many characters, and the seamless alternating chapters narrated by Laura and a servant from the Preston’s house in Bangkok gradually deepen the reader’s understanding of the past and present. Schwarz’s stellar work is riveting from its start all the way to the final horrifying twist.