Monday, April 27, 2009

review: Impossible by Nancy Werlin




Impossible by Nancy Werlin. Dial, 2008 (978-0-8037-3002-1)$17.99

It can never be easy having an insane bag lady for a mother, but thanks to loving foster parents from birth and good friends, it hasn't seriously touched seventeen-year-old Lucy Scarborough's life. She has grown up stable and strong, a determined athlete on her way to college. Then on the night of her prom, bizarre, terrifying events change Lucy's world forever, introducing her to an ancient, supernatural evil that she discovers has been devastating her biological family line for generations.

Unless she can complete impossible tasks that no other Scarborough woman has ever been able to perform, Lucy is cursed to end up like them, completely insane after giving birth to a daughter at age 18, a daughter who will in turn go on to suffer the same fate. But Lucy has advantages none of her ancestors had: her foster parents, the growing love of her oldest friend Zach, technology and Ebay -- and her own powerful will.

Inspired by the Child Ballad commonly known now as "Scarborough Fair" but also called "the Elfin Knight," Impossible is a very accessible blend of the realistic and the fantastic, with the seductively evil elements creeping into the story slowly and plausibly. It's not as rich in language or world-building as some YA excursions into the fairy realm, and as it straddles the boundaries of, as Zach thinks of it, "the real world" and "the surreal world of Lucy's family curse," the balance, or perhaps the pace, occasionally seems a little off. But the tension between the steadily growing warmth of Lucy and Zach's love for each other and the possible outcome--even worse, Lucy learns, than she originally feared--creates a deep, anxious involvement in the story's outcome. They are such tender, lovable characters, whose unusual strength and maturity make it possible to believe their young love story could have a happy ending beyond the breaking of the curse--a scenario which in our society might seem almost as impossible as making a seamless shirt with no needles. (14 & up)


© 2009 Wendy E. Betts

Other blog reviews (it may not matter in a book from last year, but for those who don't (or do) like spoilers, these give considerably more plot detail that I did):
Kidliterate
In the Booley House
Everyday Reading
Picks of the Week

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4Bligs:

OpenID thebooleyhouse bligged...

Hey, my spoilers are clearly marked as such!

Well, mostly.

4/27/2009 2:48 PM  
Blogger web bligged...

It wasn't intended as any kind of judgment, just that I chose not to reveal much of the plot and it seemed kind of silly to then point people to reviews which do.

4/27/2009 3:33 PM  
OpenID thebooleyhouse bligged...

I know, and I was largely laughing at myself (blast the internet and its lack of tone of voice!). I'm often torn between writing the interesting review and writing the spoiler-free review, and thus end up trying to refer to things very obliquely, which has its own issues.

4/28/2009 7:28 AM  
Blogger web bligged...

I hear you - I go back and forth, myself. Leaving out plot can definitely make it harder to focus on the interesting critical elements.

4/28/2009 11:07 AM  

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