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Impossible by Nancy Werlin
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Impossible (2008)

by Nancy Werlin

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Lucy is descended from a line of women who have been cursed by the elfin knight of "Scarborough Fair" fame ("The Elfin Knight" is an older name for that ballad) after their ancestor rebuffed him. Each woman in her turn becomes pregnant at 18 with a daughter and must strive, while pregnant to carry out the impossible tasks of the song. If they succeed, they'll be free; if they fail, they will go mad. No one has succeeded yet.

In folklore, when impossible tasks are set, the resolutions are usually like the resolutions of a riddle. I remember, for instance, a fairytale in which someone had to appear before a king dressed but undressed, and give him a gift, but not give him a gift. She arrived dressed in a fishing net--she was wearing the net, and yet was still naked--and gave him a bird that, as she handed it to him, flew away. It's fun seeing how people subvert the demands. Lucy's solutions seem more literal-minded than this, but I did enjoy seeing her and her family work out how to create a shirt without a seam or fine needlework.

And that brings me to a unique strength of this story: the fact that Lucy's family and love interest come to her aid. Everyone works together to help her get these tasks done. Love and family support make a difference.

A weak point, for me, about the story was Lucy's age. She's a high school student, but her thoughts and attitudes feel much more mature than that. The love story, too, wasn't quite for me. I liked the character of her love interest, but the **fact** of the love story--entailing early marriage to bring up the baby that she has to bear--was just not for me.

Still, I do like seeing people play with old ballads, and I was glad to read this.
( )
  FrancescaForrest | May 12, 2014 |
Lucy is descended from a line of women who have been cursed by the elfin knight of "Scarborough Fair" fame ("The Elfin Knight" is an older name for that ballad) after their ancestor rebuffed him. Each woman in her turn becomes pregnant at 18 with a daughter and must strive, while pregnant to carry out the impossible tasks of the song. If they succeed, they'll be free; if they fail, they will go mad. No one has succeeded yet.

In folklore, when impossible tasks are set, the resolutions are usually like the resolutions of a riddle. I remember, for instance, a fairytale in which someone had to appear before a king dressed but undressed, and give him a gift, but not give him a gift. She arrived dressed in a fishing net--she was wearing the net, and yet was still naked--and gave him a bird that, as she handed it to him, flew away. It's fun seeing how people subvert the demands. Lucy's solutions seem more literal-minded than this, but I did enjoy seeing her and her family work out how to create a shirt without a seam or fine needlework.

And that brings me to a unique strength of this story: the fact that Lucy's family and love interest come to her aid. Everyone works together to help her get these tasks done. Love and family support make a difference.

A weak point, for me, about the story was Lucy's age. She's a high school student, but her thoughts and attitudes feel much more mature than that. The love story, too, wasn't quite for me. I liked the character of her love interest, but the **fact** of the love story--entailing early marriage to bring up the baby that she has to bear--was just not for me.

Still, I do like seeing people play with old ballads, and I was glad to read this.
( )
  FrancescaForrest | May 12, 2014 |
My friend said it best. Great concept, but the writing didn't live up to it. ( )
  reckshow | Jan 21, 2014 |
Wow, where do I even begin to write the review for this amazing book? This is a story, unlike so many, that fills you upon completion. You feel whole, you feel complete, when you've taken up this book, and have touched the pages, read it through, and finally grasped that tangible end right in your heart and mind. It's a book that I found myself almost surprisingly addicted too! Considering how easy it is to read this book--because Nancy Werlin did an amazing job of writing flawlessly smooth--I was seriously going back to it like it was a crime to put it down. On the train to classes, I would stand there and find my eyes drifting to the seats, thinking to myself before I even realized what was going on that I should "sit down and continue reading." Considering I get motion sickness, this is a BIG thing for me! And yet time and time again, I just gave in. I'm an English major, and with a stack of books waiting to be read, I took this one, thinking I needed a break... and I haven't read a shred of anything else since I picked it up. Considering one of my other classes is about Comics and Graphic Novels, and the other I'm a SUPER DORK for, you would think I'd have some serious competition over mentally what book I should focus on! Nope. It was this book, Impossible all the way.

But first impressions aside (and plenty of rambling), let's get down to the nitty gritty details of things, starting off with the manner in which the book was written. Nancy Werlin is an incredible writer. Reading her book is like floating in the calmest waters, unaware that you're being carried tenderly, gently downstream. It's like breathing, like a cool drink flowing down your throat when you're parched, like the sensation of resting in bed and knowing nothing will disturb you no matter how long you lay there. It's a sensation of such delicious perfection--this smoothness and unfaltering pace in which her book is written--that reading the book becomes a literal addiction. You. Cannot. Put. Down. Her. Book. And considering most pieces of junk written today, this is an honor--an honor--that few are ever, ever given, by myself or the otherwise mentally profound. To read her writing is a delight in and of itself, just to enjoy the mastery she has over mood, the seamless way her words are woven together--the complete surety of her words itself melds fully with the reader from almost the start, so that (at least from my personal experience reading this book) you trust this author to tell you this story, to show you what's right and what's wrong, to lead you through absolutely everything. Nancy Werlin, if I ever rated on individual characteristics of books, you would receive a 5 out of 5 from me on your writing alone. It was spectacular. Your own seamless garment, woven pure.

Coming to another point, I want to more than commend Nancy Werlin on her unbelievable imagination. It's a streak of inspiration to take a piece of old folk poetry and turn it into a concept, an idea. It's a world, a universe away, to take that concept, its origin, and every miniscule difficult detail and fit it in together to create an unfaltering piece of literature many thousands of words longer than the small grain from which it was birthed. Werlin, you took something that people must have enjoyed, mulled over, and even analyzed for years... and you created an entire new child from it. You gave birth to a creation that had its origins here and there, but was nonetheless your own brainchild, and remains wholly and surely your own now that it stands here before the world to judge it. And I know--God do I know...--the strain, the struggles, and the wonders that go into a creation like this, inspired! but your very own. You took the Scarborough Fair poem and you gave it a timeless new meaning almost as profound as the poem itself. That deserves the greatest of congratulations and the sternest of support on my part. You did wonderful, and I have to let you know that. *Smiles warmly* You deserve to.

The last thing I would like to address in Nancy Werlin's book is the characters that she placed in it. My God, I could talk for ages about many of them! Let's begin with the main character, Lucy. For the first part of the book, I had my hard, ready-to-pounce suspicions. I'd been exposed to the YA genre enough to know that books written by women about main female leads usually involved a great deal of... well, to put it literally: Pathetic whores jacking off and rubbing up on anything with a hard enough object to pierce them in all the wrong ways. *Tries to hold back the urge to gag even as she writes the description* Good God, what is wrong with the people who write miserable little fantasies like that and call it a book?! But to get back on track, this very premonition is what trilled in me like a live wire, waiting for the first touch of the sallow waters these normal female leads drowned and lavished themselves in. Instead, I got an honest surprise very soon into the book! And here's the best part, it lasted and kept throughout the entire story. The main character was competent. She had a brain. She was not ready to hump the first male silhouette she saw, whether it be vampire, werewolf, angel (fallen or otherwise), or a trumped up mannequin with a feather duster that would do the trick. I finished reading this book with the sincere peace in my heart that I could enjoy it! And the SOLE reason for that was that the main character was a thinking human being, not a bitch in heat--how literal those words are. Lucy was smart, she was logical, and that carried on not just through schoolwork--which was hardly mentioned, to all you monstrous YA female writers out there--but she had an intelligence that showed through her people skills, the manner in which she handled situations with concern not just for herself, the way she depended on others but didn't throw herself at them like a wuss, thinking she suddenly didn't have to lift a finger and it'd all be okay. She was someone who knew quite well how to give, and how to receive, in the most generous and humane ways possible.

Now I must say, there is more than just Lucy to the story. Lucy was a strong and capable character herself, but it was the shining glory of this book that it had the cast of characters that it did. Lucy's foster parents, Leo and Soledad, were gems. They were realistic as parents: not just acting the role, but living and caring, responding emotionally and mentally--not just fussing or complaining or serving as reminders and authority figures as parents usually do in most stories. In addition, I love how Lucy's best friend, Sarah, who started off as a character that seemed more than a little pathetic in my eyes, redeemed herself and showed her true colors throughout the book. She was a support figure that was often silently there, holding up our lead female even when we weren't consciously thinking about her. Knowing that we didn't have another strand of senseless and miserable (aka, pathetic) drama to cloud up things throughout the main storyline was one of the smartest moves Nancy Werlin could have done with Sarah's character. She truly became a subtle steadying factor that underscored much of our reassurances in the face of our worries throughout the book. Even Miranda, Lucy's real mother who went insane, was a beautiful, sensitive, caring person, and I loved her throughout every single part, even when she was so clearly in trouble.

Perhaps the best character of all though, and I mean this with full sincerity--the best character in this book by far--was Zach Greenfield. He's the boy next door that grew up as Lucy's best friend, and God is he absolutely, jaw-droppingly amazing. He is everything that stands for determination, perseverance, generosity, care, love, humor, affection, kindness, deep feeling, understanding, honor, decisiveness, guidance, gentleness, and... I have to say it again... pure, pure wonder. He is a character with such heart in him, and so much goodness, that he is...

Undeniable.

His inner beauty, his great love, creates from every charming and self-indulging and peevish moment, that might have belonged to a more arrogant or dim-witted man, in him exudes in everything positive. For my anime and videogame fans, he has the same heart, the same soul and spirit in him that Zack Fair from Final Fantasy VII has, that Vash the Stampede from Trigun has, and that no one else! can hold a candle to! That no one else can touch upon! This is a beauty of a kind that is not only irregular, but is almost untouched in any realm--human, real, or created and imagined. There are people that try to mimic it, and there are people that come close, but there's always something missing. There's always something wrong. ...Zach, I feel, is a true Zack type. Honest, courageous in heart, embodying love... embodying love. The greatest, self-sacrificing love--to give one's self wholly to another. And to love them through every torment and vicious falling, through every injury they do to you and through every ugliness they take on. To love them, and do everything within their power to save them. This is what I felt in Zach when I read every part of his. He was more real, more authentic, more tangible and present to me throughout this book than any other character! He was like a living force, and he drove this book in ways that I cannot even begin to explain. His character deserves the best of honors from me, and the greatest appreciation and affection. I loved him. That alone should say enough.

Ah, but since I have gone on such a long tangent, let me endeavor to say a word or two more about our main villain, Mr. Person-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-Even-Though-Most-Of-Us-Can-Figure-Out-Who-He-Is-From-The-First-Time-He-Enters-The-Scene. *Laughs* That was a task to type! Try saying it! But to comment a little on his behalf, I felt that it was a very interesting take on the main villain (not that there usually is one). Still, he was both always present throughout the book, and yet not. He doesn't claim his villainhood (yes, I'm inventing words now) until almost the very end of the book, and by the time he does, we don't even bat an eyelash because we've known all along from that point on. That's what makes him peculiar. Even though he's the cause of all that's going on in this story, he's perceptively absent from playing an active role in things besides one or two points at the beginning and end of the story. Yet somehow, that adds to his arrogance whenever he does show up on the scene. It's like we're almost infuriated with him because he's detracted from the little time we have to take care of the three tasks in the poem, and all this other chaos! He manages to be a pretty dang good villain, for all that he's so scarce, and that's a considerably surprising outcome--since most villains cannot manage that. But the oppressive evil he instigates on the entire story plays his role for him: it sets the mood and keeps us reminded of his presence. Overall, it was a unique and expertly played move on Nancy Werlin's part to integrate the villain in this manner, and I have only compliments on how she did it. While I felt he may have been lacking a little bit in his physical presence, whenever he did manage to show up and we got to see him interacting, we understood perfectly well just how powerful he was and why it wasn't necessary for him to even be present while everything unfolded. So well done.

As you can tell by the very length of this review, there are many things I had to compliment about it. The story is fantastic, creative, full of rich and engaging characters--and! unlike so many YA novels today--it's realistic, believable, and intelligent. I have only the highest praise to give Nancy Werlin on this book. If I could, I'd give you a higher mark than I have already. my personal library, for my friends and family to grow up seeing, borrowing and reading. I know it's going to be an honored and excitedly enjoyed addition with many re-reads in the future! Thank you again so much for this story! It's just amazing. For you readers, if you haven't already picked up Nancy Werlin's Impossible, it's time for you to do so now! Go out and buy it! You won't regret it. ( )
  N.T.Embe | Dec 31, 2013 |
This book pointed out important life lessons and mixed in the twist of a curse. It was not one of the best books ever, but it was a definite page turner. I enjoyed how ordinary life was turned around with a long lasting curse that was cast out thousands of years before. I read this book because the description on the back sound life a very good book.
  edspicer | May 19, 2013 |
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For my mother
Elaine Sylvia Romotsky Werlin
with love
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On the evening of Lucy Scarborough's seventh birthday, after the biggest party the neighborhood had seen since, well, Lucy's sixth birthday, Lucy got one last unexpected gift.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0803730020, Hardcover)


Lucy has nine months to break an ancient curse in order to save both herself and her unborn daughter.

Inspired by the ballad “Scarborough Fair,” this riveting novel combines suspense, fantasy, and romance for an intensely page-turning and masterfully original tale.

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 and her childhood friend Zach beside her. Do they have love and strength enough to overcome an age-old evil?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:24 -0400)

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When seventeen-year-old Lucy discovers her family is under an ancient curse by an evil Elfin Knight, she realizes to break the curse she must perform three impossible tasks before her daughter is born in order to save them both.

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