Impossible – Nancy Werlin

ImpossibleTitle: Impossible
Author: Nancy Werlin

ISBN: 9780803730021
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 376
Price: $17.99 (hardcover), $9.99 (paperback)

Genre: Fantasy
Interest Age: 12 and up
Lexile Level: 670

Annotation: A family curse by an Elfin Knight destines Lucy and her unborn daughter to madness unless she completes three impossible tasks.

Plot Summary: Inspired by the ballad Scarborough Fair, Nancy Werlin’s new novel Impossible combines the rationality of the modern world with the mystical folklore of the ancient world. Lucy Scarborough was just an ordinary seventeen year old with loving foster parents until she was date raped at her prom. Her mentally unstable mother, Miranda, left her only with a version of Scarborough Fair and a letter hidden under her bookshelf. When Lucy finds out she’s pregnant and her oldest friend Zach unearths Miranda’s journal, Lucy and her family finds out it is no ordinary pregnancy. The long line Scarborough women has been cursed by the Elfin Knight to perform the three tasks incited in the song by the time of their daughter’s birth or they will go mad. No Scarborough women has ever past even the first task. Now, for her sake and the sake of her daughter’s future, Lucy must find a way to break the curse with the help of those who love her.

Critical Evaluation: Nancy Werlin’s mixing of the tangible world with the specter of the past created a fantastical story filled with romance and suspense that enthralls. Lucy Scarborough is a rational girl with a sound mind, but when the truth of her family’s legacy comes to light she must step out her rational mindset and put faith in the supernatural. The love and dedication of her foster family and boy next door Zach towards breaking the curse charms. Werlin deftly weaves magical elements into contemporary setting giving this a great starter for those interested in reading fantasy. My only issue is though written compassionately, Lucy’s rape and subsequent pregnancy are gloss over to focus on the magical storyline. I would have love to see more of a focus on those issues, but a wonderful story a fast paced compelling read overall. Good for the collection.

Author Bio: Nancy Werlin has written eight previous acclaimed novels, including National Book Award Finalist “The Rules of Survival” and Edgar Award Winner “The Killer s Cousin.” She and her husband live near Boston, Massachusetts. (Biographical note from Ingram).

Tie to Curriculum Units: Fairytale Retellings, Magical Realism, Mental Health, Sexual Education – mainly pregnancy and consent

Booktalking Ideas: 21st century fairy tale, strong women, magic in the modern world

Challenge Issues: To defend this book, I would point out that Booklist and School Library Journal gave this book starred reviews. Additionally, this book was a nominee in several state book awards like Georgia Peace, Grand Canyon Reader, Massachusetts Book Award, etc. Lastly, this interview with author Nancy Werlin where she talks about the importance of romance as a genre and new insights to Impossible.


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