by Kate Scelsa
To be published on September 8, 2011
by Balzer + Bray
Source: eARC from publisher via Edelweiss
Synopsis from Goodreads: Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby. Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eye. Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives. As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.My take: I had decided to take a pass on this book based on an older version of the synopsis that said: "This is the story of a girl, her gay best friend, and the boy in love with both of them." I'm completely on board with LGBT stories, but friendship destroying love triangles? Not so much a fan of those.
But the synopsis seems to have changed. Fans of the Impossible Life is about a friendship triangle in which all three parties do arguably feel deep affection and even love for each other, but it is not the kind of angsty, mind-changing love triangle of the sort that's become so prevalent in YA. Fans of the Impossible Life is about a lot of other things as well: depression, abandonment, low self esteem, chronic fatigue, bullying, coming out, high risk behavior that's a cry for help. The story is told in three different points of view: one first person, one in second person and, you guessed it, one in third. When I realized all this, I was half-covering my eyes, fearing an ODNTW (Overambitious Debut Novel Train Wreck). But for me, all the issues and POVs actually worked.
Fans of the Impossible Life is the story of Mira (biracial, depressed, with a seemingly perfect older sister.) Mira's fatigue and depression have led to her missing a lot of school, and she's now transferring to a new one. Then there's Jeremy (possible social anxiety, sexually questioning, bullying victim). A student at Mira's new school, he's withdrawn and painfully lonely. Mira's friend Sebastian is a foster kid who is gorgeous on the outside, but has deep-seated abandonment issues and disappears on benders that make him seem like a comet blazing downward. There are also some amazing secondary characters: Jeremy's two dads, a sympathetic English teacher, and a seemingly insufferable classmate who could also use a little compassion.
I'm often grumpy about overreaching comp titles, but I like the comparison of this to Perks of Being a Wallflower. This book does have a bit of the same feel -- a group of people who don't fit in to the obvious high school boxes and then find each other. Fans of the Impossible Life is a gritty, sad story that doesn't sugar coat the tough issues it tackles, yet somehow also feels hopeful and life-affirming.
If you've enjoyed bittersweet YA contemporaries like Perks of Being a Wallflower, Eleanor and Park, and This Song Will Save Your Life, you should definitely give this a try!