Book Review: Impossible

November 18, 2009

In her dreams, at the end, Miranda loved her.

Impossible by Nancy Werlin is the story of a girl who is cursed to get pregnant and go crazy at seventeen–just like her mother before her and her mother before her, et cetera and so forth, way back to the beginning of time.

impossibleThis book has a lot of similarities with the Magic or Madness trilogy by Justine Larbalestier, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t address that right away.  The main thing, of course, is the curse of teen pregnancy and the consequent madness, which I find an interesting approach to teen pregnancy.  I don’t study folklore or fantasy (nor do I read that much of it), but it made me wonder if pregnancy as a curse is recurring trope in folklore/fantasy.  I also find teen pregnancy as a literal curse to be a fascinating approach to teen parenthood and the way that teen parents sometimes beget teen parents.  So that it’s a curse is both problematic from a real life standpoint and interesting as a folklore trope.

I wish I had more to say about it than “huh, interesting” but…I don’t.  Maybe a folklorist would, though.

Anyway.  Down to business.

What I Liked

– I found this book compulsively readable.  I would pick it up and just read pages and pages in one sitting without even meaning to.  I really wanted to know what was going to happen.

– The relationship between Lucy and Soledad.  The evil dude even comments at one point that he hadn’t anticipated the effect of a mother’s love on helping Lucy break the curse, and I thought that was such a great moment.  The curse focuses on biological ties, but that Lucy’s bio mom is not able to help her but she has a wonderfully supportive and loving adopted mom who becomes instrumental in helping her break the curse is just awesome.

– The relationship between Miranda and Soledad, even as it’s written in the past.

Craziness aside, sadness aside, the diary was also the story of Miranda’s relationship with the one true friend that she felt she had ever had, and this was, of course, Soledad.

So, that goes back to the power of motherly love and also the power of female friendship.  Soledad is able to be such a fantastic mother to Lucy in part because of how much she loves Miranda and how connected the two of them are.  And part of the fight is Soledad reclaiming her friend’s life as much as it is about helping Lucy reclaim her own life.

– The romance, while cheesy, added to the overall message of the power of friendship and the all-encompassing power of love.


What I Didn’t Like

– This is not a story about the horrors of rape or the challenges of being a teen parent.  That said, Lucy is raped and becomes a teen parent, and while the book doesn’t exactly gloss over these as horrors or challenges, it doesn’t really do a good job of dealing with the issues either.  What I do like is that there is an emphasis on therapy and family support, but at the same time, I feel like Werlin missed an opportunity to really make some statements about both of these things.  Which leads into my next complaint…

– …the book is too short.  I feel like it could be a lot longer, and if it were, it would be able to address the Big Issues that it covers.  (It would also solve some of the summary/glossing over/big things happening off screen problems that some of the Goodreads reviewers had.)  Plus, I found myself actually wanting more of the story,  more about the characters, and more evidence of the connections between the characters, so I totally understood why Larbalestier did hers as a trilogy.  Because it’s just a lot of story to cram into a short book.  (Amazon says the book is 384 pages, but I still argue that’s short–especially given how big the font/margins are.)

– I don’t understand why this book was a National Book Award finalist.  I mean, yes, compulsively readable, but it had a lot of issues in execution.

In conclusion: I liked it, but recommend it with reservation just because I know several people who did not like it…mostly for the reasons I outlined above.

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