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Impossible [Hardcover]

Nancy Werlin
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 18, 2008 12 and up 7 and upHL670L (What's this?)
For fans of Beautiful Creatures and Wicked Lovely comes this New York Times Bestselling modern fairy tale from National Book Award Finalist Nancy Werlin.

Inspired by the classic folk ballad “Scarborough Fair,” this wonderfully riveting novel is rife with suspense, romance, and fantasy. Seventeen-year-old Lucy discovers that she is the latest recipient of a generations-old Elvin curse that requires women in her family to complete three impossible tasks or risk falling into madness and passing the curse on to the next generation. Unlike her ancestors, Lucy has the support of her fiercely protective adoptive parents, and her best friend Zach, whose friendship may be turning into something more. But do they have enough love and resolve to conquer this age-old evil?
The Scarborough Girls’ story continues in Unthinkable and the companion novel Extraordinary.
“Teens, especially young women, will enjoy this romantic fairy tale with modern trappings.”—School Library Journal (starred review)
“Showcases the author’s finesse at melding genres [with its] graceful interplay between wild magic and contemporary reality [and its] catapulting suspense.”—Booklist (starred review)
“The melding of magic and practicality produces a lovely whole.”—Kirkus (starred review)



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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.

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

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: HL670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books; First Edition edition (September 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803730020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803730021
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,536,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews
34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A quick fantasy read. August 23, 2008
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you going to Scarborough Faire? December 10, 2008
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Impossible October 16, 2010
By Mara E
For me, Impossible was a slow descent made rocky by awkward plot, writing, dialogue and characters. The premise is interesting: Lucy's maternal line is cursed. Each girl conceives at eighteen, during which she will fail at three impossible tasks, go crazy, and become the unwilling consort of an evil elf who is apparently very bad at convincing women to voluntarily sleep with him. One rejection hundreds of years ago hurt him so deeply that Mr. Evil Elf is really dedicated to the curse.

For a fairy tale, this is all well and good. Unfortunately it seems to fall on its face in a modern setting. Our characters swear up and down how hard it is to accept this curse (or any curse, really), but they seem to take this news as a deeply sedated person might. Everyone in this book is far too balanced, almost rational to a fault. I did not feel much for any of them, besides feeling like I was watching them act out their highly medicated drama in a sound proof box through a dirty window pane.

If the actions of everyone aren't stilted enough, the dialogue forces the book into new levels of awkwardness. The teenagers act like they're at least thirty, and the same voice is used for everyone. All the characters seem to speak in a flat monotone that is interspersed with deep silences so they can better process something or the other in order to bore the reader to death with their insistence on acting like curses and evil elves are totally normal phenomena.

Bad things happen to these people. Rape, the promise of insanity and losing loved ones, but their reactions are glossed over, vague, or so rational it convinced me they were more automaton than human. No one seems to show any genuine emotion, and any possible fallout (dealing with rape, insanity, etc.) seems to be held at arm's length for the sake of the plot, which trudges along because it must.

Ultimately, I skimmed toward the end.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unemotional and unsatisfying December 10, 2011
By Lauren
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars girlfriend loved it!
Girlfriend loved it!
Published 2 months ago by AKJusth
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This was a gift for a grandchild who liked it very much.
Published 2 months ago by Ken manthe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An amazing book!!
Published 5 months ago by Mackenzie
1.0 out of 5 stars Blech.
Bland , trite, and badly written. Even the villain was boring. The nonchalant treatment of rape turned my stomach. There was nothing to recommend this book.
Published 6 months ago by ShannonS386
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 14 months ago by david
2.0 out of 5 stars The student in question is smart, spunky Lucy Scarborough who so far...
Inspired by the Medieval ballad, "Scarborough Fair," Impossible is a fantastical story about a rape, a family curse, a legacy of insanity, and a high school junior's pregnancy. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Liz W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, Great condition
This book met my expectations. Great story, Great condition. I love it!
Published 19 months ago by TytianA will
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Novel
Impossible by Nancy Werlin is a adult young fiction fantasy novel. Lucy Scarborough is seventeen when she figures out that a curse has haunted her family ancestors for many years. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Shannon Wentzell
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced Overview of Impossible
Imagine reading your predicted future from the words of a stranger. What would you be willing to do to save your family? Read more
Published 20 months ago by Katie
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept
I liked this book. It wasn't a complex literary masterpiece, but it was fun to read. I also leant this title to my friend who loves young adult fiction such as the Twilight series... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Ms. Alice
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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.

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