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.
With such a haunting cover and a vague description on the book jacket, the reader who picks up this book has to take a leap of faith. The blurb mentions a song, a curse, something about mental illness, and not much more. You are left wondering if the book is worth unraveling such nonsense... and trust me it is! Impossible by Nancy Werlin is a haunting story full of love, pain, and supernatural mystery that will keep you turning the pages all night long.
Lucy Scarborough has been tormented by her mother's insanity for years. Lucy's foster parents, Soledad and Leo, take wonderful care of Lucy. In a way, they do for Lucy what they couldn't do for Lucy's mother, Miranda, when she came to them 17 and pregnant with no place to go. They took care of Miranda, but as soon as she gave birth to Lucy, she was lost in a world of her own madness. Lucy is so humiliated and saddened by her birth mother that she doesn't tell anyone her story, except Zach. Zach has stayed with her foster parents for years and is finally back on Christmas break from college. While Lucy has always trusted Zach with everything, she is starting to see him as more than just a family member.
When prom comes around, Zach helps convince the overprotective Soledad to let her go. Although he is jealous of the nerdy boy she is going with, he thinks it is important Lucy gets some normal fun in her life. Unfortunately, prom night is anything but normal or fun. After the dance, Lucy follows her date back into the ballroom where he forgot something. In the ballroom, he admits he didn't forget anything, but just wanted some time with her. Then he proceeds to rape her. Lucy tries to stop him, but something happens to his face as he hurts her- it seems to shift as though someone else is inside his body. When Zach finds her, the wheels start turning to help her. She goes to the hospital, the mysterious new employee at Soledad's practice gets Lucy the morning after pill, and they find a therapist for her to talk to.
About two months later, it becomes very clear to Lucy that she is pregnant, despite the prevention she took. When she finally confides in Zach and her parents, they are very supportive of her decision to keep the baby. Then Lucy learns something of her past. She finds her mother's diary from when Miranda was pregnant. While the diary is telling, there are pages ripped out. When Lucy remembers the false bottom of a shelf she found as a kid, she finds the missing diary pages. In them, Miranda tells of a curse placed on the Scarborough girls generations ago by an evil faerie king. When Fenella Scarborough refused to be her queen, he cursed her generations to come with an early pregnancy that creates another girl in the line and drives the mother mad once she is born. Miranda's diary pages also explain the song "Scarborough Fair" tells of the curse and the three impossible tasks Lucy can perform before she gives birth that will end the curse. Lucy must make a shirt with no seems and constructed with no needles. She must find an acre of land between "the salt water and the sea strand" and she must plow that land with a goat's horn and sow it with one grain of corn. While the tasks seem impossible, Zach and Lucy's parents won't give up on her. From genealogical research to prove the curse is real, to searching real estate for the acre of land between the salt water and the sea strand, to work with fabrics and materials to create the seamless shirt, the whole family is determined to save Lucy and her baby girl. But can they beat the clock and beat the faerie king in one fell swoop?
Oh, Nancy Werlin, you wove such an intriguing tale! This story is mysterious and clever, with a plot that continuously reveals little tidbits until you finally have the whole, crazy story. The vague description of the book made me wary- I am not fond of books that stay shrouded in mystery for all but the last 50 pages. It drives me nuts! While this book has a vague beginning, the pace of revelation throughout the book is wonderful. New twists are revealed and unfolded at a pace that keeps the reader from losing interest but still keeps them wanting more.
The material seems heavy and mature, but it is handled with the utmost of grace and dignity. While the rape is certainly traumatizing for Lucy, it isn't the central story. I also liked how her parents dealt with the rape and the pregnancy- very upfront, honest, and supportive. I suspect some people would hesitate in giving this book to students because of the content, but they would be overlooking the incredible messages embedded within the mature scenarios. Yes, Lucy is pregnant, but she trusts her parents enough to openly talk to them about it, not hide it from them. Yes, Lucy is raped, but her family is proactive, seeks a therapist, and support Lucy every step of the way. And while Lucy acknowledges the unfortunate timing of her pregnancy, she loves her unborn daughter and will fight against the impossible in order to protect her. I know there are many adults out there who would shy away from exposing mature situations to young readers. While I understand that urge, I think the right book with mature situations handled well is just as powerful in a positive way. This book is well written and any maturity is handled beautifully. So make it all possible and give this amazing book a chance!
on December 10, 2011
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. Maybe the author could have done something interesting with this - "Well, it's something the women in my family have been dealing with for generations, so I have to focus on something else or I'm going to go insane" - but that would require the author to have done something interesting.
If you're looking for a good supernatural YA novel, this isn't it. It's just pedestrian, like reading a book written by someone who was lobotomized and can't express actual feelings. For this kind of dramatic story, you'd think a little bit of drama would leak through on its own, but it doesn't. Instead, it's boring, sometimes dubious on the teaching a lesson front, and too long.
on December 19, 2011
I thought this book had good potential, but in the end fell very flat in my opinion. Lucy was a Mary Sue- had cute guy next door in love with her, was smart and pretty and had guys interested in her but had NO idea (seriously such an overused trope that needs to stop). There were three rather odd uninteresting tasks she had to complete in order to lift a curse put upon her because of some ancestor or something (to uninterested in the book to re read exactly what). I just wouldn't recommend this book, there are a lot better fantasy books out there that you should spend your money and time on.
on October 16, 2010
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.
on October 22, 2009
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? The rape was Lucy's first experience with sex, yet she goes straight into Zach's arms, feeling not one moment of anger or fear or shame or pain, only bliss. What does this say to girls who ARE feeling these things after suffering sexual abuse? Nothing seemed to be that big a deal, not the rape, or the pregnancy, or the teen marriage, or being married with a baby and trying to finish school. Smooth sailing all the way with everyone's undying support. There is the fantasy factor! On a side note, one thing that seemed kind of humorous to me, was everyone's efforts to find ways to complete the tasks, to prevent Lucy from going insane, yet to read the descriptions of their efforts, from the making of the shirt to looking all over the world for land, made em sound a wee bit wacko themselves!
I rate it one star, not because it could have been a good fantasy work and wasn't, but because of the way it minimizes the very real impact these events have on the lives of the girls this book is for.
on December 30, 2013
This book has given me more than a story. After reading the book, I spent the next three days researching Scarborough Fair.
And over a year after reading this book from the library, I knew I had to own it. Im not a person that reads a book more than once, but it's such a treasure that I had to just own it, so that I wouldn't forget this book.
Being a book collector, it made me cringe to see the black marker line on the underneath part of the book, but you couldn't find a flawless book unless you went to a book store and examined it. The back of the book shows a sticker mark that wasn't cleaned off well, and even some scuff marks. But I bought the hard cover for a reason! I didn't want to order a papercover book and receive it bent in the mail. So I think the hard cover was worth the extra few dollars.
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
on February 21, 2013
I picked this up through the 'suggestions' at the bottom of the page. It had a nice cover (although not the one I see here). Well, this inside was... SHOCKINGLY GOOD. It's a keeper. I've even bought extras and given them away. Don't miss it.
on January 13, 2010
I vacillated between 2 stars and 3 stars in my rating. I ended up giving it 3 stars since 2 stars indicated "I don't like it" and 3 stars indicated "It was ok".
So, it was just, OK.
Really, I wanted to love this book, because quite frankly the premise for Werlin writing it was very cool. I love authors who create a story out of an well known object (like a painting - shout out here to Tracy Chevalier!) or, in the case of Impossible, an old folk ballad: Scarborough Fair. I've loved that old Simon & Garfunkel tune since I was a kid, and didn't realize there were so many variations to the ballad.
Werlin was definitely on to something here, but for me, she lost it in her approach to this novel. IMO, I think she was trying too hard to merge both the magical aspect and the realistic aspect of the plot together. Due to the fact that you're dealing with an "elfin knight", a centuries old curse, and seemingly impossible tasks to complete, I would have enjoyed the novel more had it rested more heavily on the fantasy aspect and less on trying to fit it into a contemporary YA book. I just didn't buy into Lucy and Zach's relationship and eventual marriage, nor the way Lucy's family just accepted the curse and the tasks at hand. Too much suspension of disbelief for my taste.
Not a horrible book by any means, and certainly entertaining enough to keep you reading to find out what happens, but it could have been much, much better IMO.