Review posted August 10, 2014.
Speak (Penguin), 2008. 376 pages.
2014 Sonderbooks Standout: #2 Teen Fiction
For ages now, I've been meaning to read Impossible, by Nancy Werlin. I keep meeting Nancy at ALA conferences and like her very much indeed, and every time I was embarrassed that I haven't yet read her work, even though I've wanted to since before I ever met her. Part of the problem is that I own a copy of her book, so it doesn't have a due date, so I don't get around to it as quickly.
But I like to bring my own books on vacation, and I like to bring paperbacks. So when I left for a week in Oregon, I put Impossible first on my list of books to read on the plane. The only problem with that? When I finished, I liked it so much, I didn't really want to start another book, since I wanted to savor the one I'd just finished. However, while in Oregon, I visited Powell's, and bought the two sequels, so now on the way home I can continue to feast on Nancy Werlin's books.
The premise of Impossible is that the ballad "Scarborough Fair" actually happened and tells of an actual curse that was put on a young woman and her daughters after her, and her daughters' daughters down through the generations to today. An elfin knight demanded her love, and she could only escape if she performed three impossible tasks. And then, eighteen years later, her daughter must perform the three impossible tasks or be caught in the same curse.
What I love about Impossible? All the reasons why Lucy Scarborough's case is not hopeless. Even though her mother's a crazy bag lady, she's been brought up by warm, loving, and wise foster parents. And there's a young man who truly loves her. So she doesn't have to complete the challenges alone.
And the story of how she does so is truly beautiful.
I also like the way this unbelievable, impossible curse is woven into a story of a modern-day believable seventeen-year-old girl with ordinary concerns like being on the track team and going to Prom. I like the way all the characters realistically have a hard time believing it and the modern ways in which they tackle the challenges together.
Most of all, I just love Lucy and the people around her. Nancy Werlin has written a brilliant book about True Love.
Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember us to all who live there
Ours will be true love for all time.