Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Summary from Goodreads:
A captivating and profound debut novel about complicated love and the friendships that have the power to transform you forever, perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

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.
I was so genuinely surprised by and hooked on this book. I knew going into it that the blurbs were misleading and that there wouldn’t necessarily be a bisexual love triangle. So I wasn’t as disappointed by this notion as I might have been otherwise (stupid misleading blurbs). I also knew that the writing style might end up taking me out of the story because the book switches points of view from first person to second person to third person narrative styles (depending on the character). I knew this would be remarkably awesome if it worked, or terribly annoying if it didn’t.
For me, it all worked. I thought this book was so brave. The topics it covered were brave. The characters were brave. And the writing style was so uniquely brave as well. At first, I was a little hesitant (especially with the second person narration). I was taken out of the story by it’s weird shift to that style, but eventually, I just go into the groove of it all, and wow. I was impressed.
This book was a giant feast of difficult teen topics. All is covered: drugs, addiction, depression, suicide, bullying, foster care, love, friendship, friendship with benefits, running away, hospitalization, and probably a few more things I can’t even remember. There are straight characters, gay characters, and seemingly bi characters. There are genuinely caring teachers, unforgiving parents, gay parents, and neglectful foster parents. So much is covered.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen mental illness handled and written about so well. So much of this rang true for me (having grown up with a sibling who is bipolar). The way Mira’s parents saw depression as something that could be cured with fad diets literally had me seething.
Also, I felt so much for these characters. Poor Sebby never had it easy and it was so hard to watch him fall further and further down the wrong path. I loved watching Jeremy try everything again and go back to the school that was so cruel to him. I loved that these characters had each other and that they saw in each other what they saw in themselves. Everyone needs that. And so much of what this whole book comes down to is friendship. The rest is very much about perspective.
I also loved that a tiny piece of the story took place in Provincetown because I live in Cape Cod and I can picture that little adventure so well. I’m not sure there is much of anything I didn’t love. I can see some people having problems with the writing style. You really need to be able to give it a healthy try for more than a quarter or so of the book before it flows naturally. And I can understand why people might not make it.
I loved the writing styles. It was unlike anything I was used to or comfortable with and that made me love it more. I loved the characters. I thought the portrayal of mental illness was spot-on. I found the whole thing so believable. It was never sugar coated with fake optimism. Not all the characters have the bright, shiny endings you expect in a YA book, and I liked how this added to the whole piece. This read like a piece of art and I’m so glad I picked up this ARC at BEA. Pub date is 9/8/15. And I give it a 10/10.

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