Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book Review: Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Title: Impossible

Author: Nancy Werlin

Pages: 376

Where I got it: Wal-Mart


Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that the women of her family have been cursed through the generations, forced to attempt three seemingly impossible tasks or to fall into madness upon their child's birth. But Lucy is the first girl who won't be alone as she tackles the list. She has her fiercely protective foster parents beside her. And she has Zach, whose strength amazes her more each day. Do they have enough love and resolve to overcome an age-old evil?

Inspired by the ballad "Scarborough Fair," Impossible combines suspense, fantasy, and romance.

Lucinda "Lucy" Scarborough is a normal seventeen year old girl. Good friends, athletic, foster parents who love her. She even has a date to the prom. The only abnormality in her life is Miranda, her insane, homeless birth mother.

For as long as she can remember, Lucy's mother has been a shadow hanging over life. Refusing treatment, she comes and goes as she pleases, showing up at the most inopportune times--at Lucy's school, for instance, singing the Simon and Garfunkel ballad, "Scarborough Fair". Usually, Miranda is only a afterthought, like a mild scratch on Lucy's ankle. Until prom night, that is.

Lucy, hand-in-hand with her well-intentioned prom date Gray, Miranda suddenly appears, shrieking nonsense warnings and chucking empty bottles at Lucy and her family. The police are called, Miranda is escorted to a mental institution, and Lucy eventually makes it to prom. But, to make a bad night worse, Lucy is raped by her prom date, who kills himself by running his car into a tree.

Soon, Lucy discovers she's pregnant. And herself and her unborn baby are part of a long-running family of women haunted by a rejected Elfin Knight, cursed to become pregnant at eighteen and go insane shortly after their daughter's birth. They are given three impossible tasks, their only hopes to break the curse--make a seamless shirt, find a patch of land between salt water and sea strand, and plow and sow this land with only a goat's horn and a single drain of corn. None of the Scarborough women have completed these task, all going mad as their mothers before them.

Now, I know what you all must be thinking--that this is a dark, depressing tale of misery and woe. That only tragedy can await you upon opening Impossible. But, surprisingly enough, this isn't the case. In fact, I'd call Impossible one of the most feel-good novels I've ever read.

No, I'm not a sadist. It just isn't a depressing book. Even while dealing with rape and ancient curses, Werlin graces her writing with a certain sense of lightness and comfort, while also keeping things appropriately eery.

For me, however, this was kind of a love/hate book. I loved it in that way you love an old Disney movie, the kind that brings back that sense of romance and love and 'dreams really do come true ya'all!!!'. But, the older you are, the harder it is to ignore the flaws and cheesiness and lack of realism that are just so glaringly obvious you start to wonder if whomever was in charge just gave up and hoped their audience wouldn't notice.

My main tiff with Impossible was Lucy--she didn't come across as a real person to me. The first thing I look for in these sort of things is believability. Do I feel like I know this character? Is this how they would react to this situation? Do I like them? The answer to all of these were a huge, resounding no.

Lucy is perfect--not perfect as in good at everything, perfect as in perfectly behaved. Every parent's dream--works hard, gets good grades, does the sports thing, obedient, polite, beautiful. Not once, during Impossible, has she acted out, or even raised her voice. She's just too perfect for me to like, and maybe that just reflects my personnel preferences, but still. I can't bring myself to enjoy reading about her.

There is a strong romantic undercurrent to Impossible. Zack, the token Childhood Friend Turned Lovah, is one of the most unbelievably sweet fools I've ever read about. In fact, let me make this clear, ladies--let me make this clear, ladies--never marry a man who does not utter these EXACT words:

I loved you for that. I can’t even tell you how much. I’d kill for you. I’d die for you. I’d be happy forever if you’d only smile at me–although, come to think of it, I wish you’d kiss me. I want to hold you; I want to hold me. You are so gorgeous I can hardly believe it. You make me laugh; you make me cry. Nothing matters but you. Nothing matters but you. Nothing matters but you
Hands to yourself, ladies. This ones mine.

Okay, I was wrong about the "undercurrent" thing--romance and family and relationships are the plot here, the three tasks and the curse taking a second seat to Zack and Lucy and her foster parents. I must say, this was quite irritating to me. It felt like they spent five seconds on the so-called focus on Impossible, and everything seemed so unevenly distributed. It's a very hard thing for me to describe, but it was a bit discerning.

Overall, I don't think Impossible is worth all the hype it's gotten over the past few months. While it's definitely a nice weekend read, I wouldn't call it the Next Great American Novel. Worth checking out, though.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Also: cool book trailer:


ladystorm said...

It sure sounds different.

elnice said...

Good, honest review. I have been watching for some reviews of this one. I have picked it up a dozen times. Maybe I will wait for the library copy.
Elie (Ellz Readz)

alana said...

Maybe it's an age thing, but I would drop my man in an instant if he said somethign that creepy to me. lol

Cindy said...

You WON VAMPED, please contact me with address asap!

princessbookie84 at gmail dot com

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