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Impossible Paperback – August 11, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—Werlin combines magic, romance, and a family curse in this 21st-century fairy tale based on the ballad "Scarborough Fair." On the night of her prom, Lucy, 17, is raped by her date and becomes pregnant. She decides to keep the child, and she is supported by her foster parents and Zach, her childhood friend whose love for Lucy changes from platonic to romantic as the story progresses. The teen discovers the curse on the women in her family when she reads her birth mother's diary. Lucy is destined for madness at 18 unless she can perform the three impossible tasks described in the song and break the curse of the Elfin Knight. She is determined to rid herself and her unborn child of the curse, and her family and Zach help her as she works to solve the riddles. This unique story flows smoothly and evenly, and the well-drawn characters and subtle hints of magic early on allow readers to enter willingly into the world of fantasy. As in The Rules of Survival (Dial, 2006), Werlin addresses tough topics. Rape, teen pregnancy, and family madness set the story in motion, but the strength of Lucy's character and the love of her family and friends allow her to deal with such difficult matters and take on the impossible. Teens, especially young women, will enjoy this romantic fairy tale with modern trappings.—Jennifer D. Montgomery, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Date rape, a pregnant teen, and a shotgun wedding (of sorts)—must be a YA problem novel circa 1985, right? Not really. From a hidden letter, 17-year-old Lucy Scarborough learns “all sorts of melodramatic, ridiculous, but true things” about the circumstances surrounding her rape on prom night, her subsequent pregnancy, and why therapy and her signature pragmatism won’t be much help against an ancient fairy’s curse. By the Edgar Award–winning novelist whose thrillers include The Rules of Survival (2006), this tale, inspired by the song “Scarborough Fair,” showcases the author’s finesse at melding genres. Although it’s perhaps overly rosy that Lucy’s devoted foster parents take the curse in stride, Werlin earns high marks for the tale’s graceful interplay between wild magic and contemporary reality—from the evil fairy lord disguised as a charismatic social worker to the main players’ skepticism as they attempt to solve the curse’s three archaic puzzles (“We’ve formed the Fellowship of the Ring when really we should’ve all just gone on medication”). Meantime, Lucy’s marriage to childhood pal Zach, a development unusual in YA fiction but convincing in context, underlies the catapulting suspense with a notion that will be deeply gratifying to many teens: no destiny is unalterable, especially not when faced with tender love magic, “weird and hilarious and sweeter than Lucy ever dreamed,” worked by truly mated souls. Grades 7-11. --Jennifer Mattson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142414913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142414910
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #698,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Nancy Werlin has written 9 young adult novels, including New York Times-bestselling fantasy (Impossible), Edgar-award winning suspense (The Killer's Cousin), and National Book Award-honored realistic fiction (The Rules of Survival). Her newest book is Unthinkable, a companion novel to the fantasies Impossible and Extraordinary. Nancy grew up in Peabody, Massachusetts, received her bachelor's degree in English from Yale, and now lives with her husband near Boston.

Customer Reviews

Impossible was a great book with a phenomenal plot and good characters.
amatthews123
In Impossible, Nancy Werlin has created a modern fairy tale and love story that is impossible to put down.
Erin K. Simons
The characters were flat, (many of them just too perfect to be true) and one dimensional.
2Bookworms

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Monie Garcia VINE VOICE on August 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
For the past five generations the women in Lucy Scarborough's family have been cursed to give birth to a girl at 17-years old then fall into madness. One difference in Lucy's case is that she has her foster family and good friend Zach to protect her. When the inevitable pregnancy happens Lucy finds her birth mother's diary and learns the secrets to breaking the curse. Now Lucy has nine months to figure out and complete three tasks. Will she do it on time and save herself and her daughter or will she be doomed to follow the women in her family into insanity?
The target audience is ages 12 and up however I feel that some of the subject matter in the book would be unsuitable for children so young. Without revealing any spoilers the way Lucy becomes pregnant and the discussions of sex in the book seem more suited for someone at least 16 years or older.
I got through the book in one day however it seemed to drag on more than I expected. Lucy's character is well written but I just couldn't connect with the other characters surrounding her. The happily ever after ending was unbelievable and I feel that the completion of the three tasks could have been developed a whole lot more being that they were a major plot point in Lucy breaking free of the curse.
I'm not convinced that true fantasy readers will like this story. To me it was passable but I would have liked more fantasy elements to the story. The book is more romance or fiction addressing social issues than fantasy. If you're looking for a realistic fantasy with lots of magical elements then this book might not work for you.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By R. Kyle TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Raise your hand if you haven't heard the song "Scarborough Faire." Odds are, your hand is down and your head's full of music. As with many songs, the ballads are based on legends.

This is just one possible scenario for "Scarborough Faire."

On her seventh birthday, Lucy Scarborough finds a hidden letter in a hollowed out place in her bookshelves. She cannot read the cramped cursive writing, but she figures the old papers have some 'magic'. Angry at her best friend, Zach, she hides the baseball shirt which doesn't fit that he'd given her for her birthday with the letter and a wish that she'd find the shirt and letter when the shirt fit--and Zach would love her more.

It's ten years later and Lucy finds shirt and letter. She's 17 now and the warning in the letter which turned out to be from her biological Mom has come true.

The Scarborough women carry a curse. At seventeen, they all become pregnant, go crazy and abandon their infant child, and end up out on the streets.

Lucy doesn't quite believe the story--until her foster parents and Zach start helping her do some research. She's got a little less than nine months to perform three seemingly impossible tasks, or face the same fate as the rest of her line for generations.

"Impossible" is a wonderful story for lovers of folk songs, faery tales, and love stories. While the target audience is young adults, any age will love the timeless beauty of the tale.

Rebecca Kyle, December 2008
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lauren on December 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is just not good. The characters are totally wooden, for one thing: A challenge comes up and they sit down and talk about it without actually dealing with the fact that it's completely insane. Nobody has a problem, nobody screws up, nobody yells; it's like watching an informational video on How To Deal With An Ancient Curse. This is particularly awful when you realize that the nature of the curse is that a supernatural being has been raping and enslaving every single generation of this family for the last umpteen years - yet Lucy, our heroine, and everyone else in this godforsaken book, just go on with their lives, ho-hum. "Oh, I guess we need to do this impossible task," one of them will say, and then they do it, ho-hum. Even the villain is boring.

There are other problems; pacing is one of them. If the book was a movie, 65% of it would be in montage format: The heroine making a shirt! The heroine is working out! The heroine is getting ready for prom! (The other 35% would be awkward dialogue.) I think the book would probably have made an excellent novella, but instead it is many interminable pages long.

I would also point out the afterschool special that is the teenage pregnancy resulting from rape in this book as problematic. (It's a spoiler, but then again, it's also a trigger warning - so for those of you who need one, please take note. It's the premise on which the entire book is based, so it's not really a spoiler.) The heroine struggles a little bit with this one, but she's totally okay by the end of the book. In fact, I'm not sure we ever see how she deals with it.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By susannah on October 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I too read this book in one day and thought there were parts of it that could have been very interesting. The premise is a different one. I think Lucy is a wonderful, strong, beautiful, smart girl, a very positive image in the book. What I am not quite sure of is what genre the book is actually supposed to be in, since as a fantasy, it falls short. The entire premise of the book is about the three tasks, yet Lucy herself said, " I thought there would be a magical sparkle or something." Why weren't the magical elements more developed? As a non fantasy book about families and love, why were Lucy's foster parents and Zach absolutely perfect in every way? It didn't occur to the parents or Zach to even blink once when they heard about the curse and about Lucy's fate? Zach's parents didn't have a BIG problem when he dropped out of a top school and a promising future to marry a pregnant Lucy, when he told them that he had to marry her, even though the baby wasn't his, "because, you know, Lucy's gonna go bonkers any minute now and someone has to take care of the baby?"

It also seemed to me that the custodial issues didn't make alot of sense. I wondered why Miranda never allowed Soledad and Leo to adopt Lucy, leaving her in custodial limbo all of her life, when she professed to love her so. I also thought that Lucy could have given her daughter to her parents to adopt, therefore not having to marry Zach to keep her safe.

The main issues I have is the messages this book sends to the young girls who are going to read it. First and foremost, Lucy was raped, and that act doesn't seem to have any real impact on her. Does this tell girls that if it happens to you, it's not that big a deal?
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